Where Were You On August 3 When The El Paso Tragedy Occurred?
El Paso, where were you when you heard the horrific news of the August 3 Walmart shooting?
On Saturday, August 3, 2019, at 10:39 a.m., a lone gunman from Allen, TX, armed with an AK-47, entered Walmart near the Cielo Vista area in east El Paso and opened fire, killing 23 people and injuring dozens more.
That morning, my co-worker and I were at DD's Discount in far west El Paso for an early morning promotion. Less than an hour into our gig, we began to see news bulletins on our phones of a shooting near Cielo Vista Mall and thought maybe it was a road rage situation gone bad and went about our day.
A few minutes later, my coworker received a call from his son in Austin asking if he was ok, and a few seconds later, my brother called me to check in to see where I was because he too had heard the news and we had family who was at Cielo Vista Mall that morning.
For the next hour, my coworker and I tried to keep up with the news because there was a lot of misinformation. Police initially said there were reports of multiple shooters. The information kept changing from one shooter to reports of numerous shooter(s) running from Cielo Vista Mall to Walmart and vice versa. At the same time, other alleged reports surfaced of possible new attacks planned at different locations, but police would later confirm those reports were false.
Although concerned over my family, there wasn't much I or anyone could do but wait and keep up with the news and hope and pray that everyone was out of harm's way.
After our promotion, we returned to the station, where we did our best to report the active situation. Then we heard that the single shooter had surrendered to police shortly after, was arrested, and taken into custody without incident.
It wasn't until after 2 pm that I learned our family members were safe after being held at the Cielo Vista parking lot inside a police cruiser out of an abundance of caution.
Soon after the shooter's arrest, the gravity of the situation began to sink in as I reported the number of deaths, 18, 20, no 21; the number kept changing, and then we got word that kids were involved; I was numb by that point.
And then it hit me; I was having a flashback of 9/11, reporting on another heinous incident, but this time it was happening at home, a direct hit on El Pasoans.
By 7 p.m. that evening, I left work mentally exhausted and headed to Scenic Drive to make sense of what had occurred. As I rolled up, I miraculously found the last parking space at the top, got out of my car, and sat there overlooking the city. I remember it was so quiet; no one up there was talking; we just sat there collectively feeling the same together in silence while the tears flowed.
Today, August 3, 2022, marks the third anniversary of the day we lost 23 innocent lives, and it's still not something I can fully get over, and neither have the victims' families; however, we have learned to adapt; thanks to the resiliency and outpouring of love from our community.
The FBI considers the Walmart shooting an act of domestic terrorism and hate crime and is officially one of the nation’s deadliest attacks and shootings on Latinos in modern American history.
May the 23 beautiful souls we lost three years ago rest in peace, and I hope and pray that justice prevails as we await for the federal trial to finally take place on January 8, 2024, five long years after the monstrous massacre.