Home / US / El Paso shooting: hugs helped victims deal with it. A sign of affection could endanger her life now

El Paso shooting: hugs helped victims deal with it. A sign of affection could endanger her life now



His slow recovery was marked by frustration and dreams of returning to his home in Chihuahua City, Mexico, after being hit by an assault rifle bullet that damaged his stomach, intestines, and renal artery. In late February, the doctors gave the laundry mechanic permission to go on the four-hour return trip he and his family had prayed for in a Texas hospital during those long months.

But within a few days of his return, he fell back and has been locked in a hospital room since the coronavirus pandemic threatens his recovery.

“It is devastating. We came home hoping to regain our lives,” said De Alba Montes’ wife Oliva Rodriguez Mariscal, who sits for hours on her husband̵

7;s bed with a face mask. Her daughter, she says, is not allowed to go to the hospital and only sees her father on video calls.

On Monday’s one-year anniversary, when a shooter opened fire in a busy Walmart store, killing 23 people and leaving another 23 wounded, there will be no crowds gathering at memorials or strangers to honor the dead.

The pandemic has changed almost every aspect of everyday life, and the grim anniversary of the nation’s deadliest shootings and deadliest attack on Latinos in modern US history is no exception.
Anna Perez, 53, holds a sign during a transit vigil in El Paso, Texas, to honor the 23 victims of the Walmart shootout on Saturday.
When EP Fusion soccer coach Guillermo “Memo” Garcia – the last victim killed in the mass shootings – died after months of fighting for his life in a hospital, only 10 people were allowed to enter the funeral home and drive through a vigil was held.
Tito Anchondo, whose brother and sister-in-law died to protect their baby, said he stopped producing a documentary film to honor the victims due to the pandemic. A public opening for an exhibition of objects from the long provisional monument that formed behind Walmart has been suspended.

The family of Arturo Benavides, an army veteran and retired bus driver who was killed in the shooting, were asked to invite only 10 people to an inauguration ceremony for a bus transfer center that was renamed in his honor. His niece Melissa Tinajero said relatives are considering visiting the construction site for the August 1 event in shifts.

On the eve of the first anniversary, the families, survivors and officials of the victims took part in a commemoration ceremony in Ascarate Park, where a permanent medicinal monument is to be erected. They kept themselves socially distant and wore masks when the lawyers for the victims of group crimes wore purple T-shirts and contained photos of the 23 people killed in the shootings.

El Pasoans will ride or walk through a path of Luminarias – small paper lanterns – in Ascarate Park on Monday, or light their own Luminarias on their verandas. Others will see virtual memorial services.

El Pasoans drove through Ascarate Park on Sunday to see a Luminarias honoring the victims of the shootout.
Texas has battled major Covid 19 outbreaks in recent months. Many hospitals in southern Texas are overwhelmed by Covid 19 patients, and the number of confirmed coronavirus cases has increased to over 418,000. The state is higher than New York – once the US epicenter of the pandemic.
In El Paso, over 14,200 people were tested positive for the virus and 266 deaths have been linked to Covid-19, local health officials say.
El Paso Mayor Dee Margo said the pandemic is the third major crisis the city has faced in recent years, but he believes it will eventually pass. Last year, emergency shelters tried to accommodate thousands of migrants released by federal officials during a flood of asylum seekers, and within a few months, the gunfire shook the city.

The pandemic, the mayor said, has limited the city’s ability to honor victims and made it difficult for this binational community to heal together. It prevents many survivors and victim families living across the U.S.-Mexico border from entering the country due to corona virus travel restrictions, and forces many others to withhold one of the basic ways of interacting.

“Our standard greeting is an abrazo (hug). We hug and kiss and that’s us,” Margo told CNN. “This pandemic says that you can’t and it complicates who we are, our normal nature and culture.”

Almost a year had passed since Adria Gonzalez, 38, screamed and signaled a way out for those in the Walmart store with her pink hat when she met a man she was helping to get out of safely.
He was shot five times at El Paso Walmart and spent two months in hospitals.  This is his struggle for his life back

‘He looked at me and there was peace in his eyes. He said to me: “I was one of God’s angels,” Gonzalez recalls.

The reunion took place in a park in El Paso with Gonzalez, her mother, who had been with her during the shootout, and the man with face masks. They stood some distance away and followed the guidelines of social distancing when they remembered the minutes of terror that marked their lives.

But Gonzalez says she can’t stop herself from leaning over and hugging the man even when her mother jumped up to warn her about Covid-19.

“A sacred emotion came over us and we hugged each other hard, but with our masks,” Gonzalez told CNN. “It was something I had to do.”

Several objects from a provisional monument that formed behind Walmart after filming are part of a new exhibition at the El Paso Museum of History.

Pandemic disrupted healing process, says expert

For many people, healing from the prolonged trauma of the mass shooting due to the pandemic could be even more difficult, experts say.

It has disrupted the normal healing process because it includes social support, engaging with others, and returning to a routine – everything that has become practically impossible through social distancing and isolation, said Farris Tuma, director of the National Institute’s traumatic stress research program mental health.

“The pandemic itself involves many of the same experiences and risk factors … like any other trauma or emergency in terms of how it affects people’s lives,” said Tuma.

Some of these factors include death, economic hardship, and just the worry and fear of getting sick with the virus, he said.

The 'Grand Candela' was built last year at the southern end of the Walmart car park to honor the victims.
In the two weeks after the Walmart shoot, a crisis hotline from the Emergence Health Network – the largest mental health provider in the city – doubled the daily number of incoming calls.

According to Kristen Daugherty, CEO of EHN, some callers initially asked why El Paso, and in particular the Hispanic community, were targeted, while others felt guilty about changing their plans to go to Walmart this morning and hers Last minute plans had changed.

Later, callers tried to relieve people’s fear.

“People called and said you know I am a Spanish person, I am afraid to go to the store and children are afraid to go back to school,” she said.

At present, “the crisis hotline and crisis services are almost the same overall,” said the agency.

“I think it changed the way people saw the need to take care of themselves psychologically, even if it was just talking to someone who logs on to someone,” said Daugherty.

Approximately 120 people affected by the Walmart shootings still have access to advisory services, and many others have asked for help since the pandemic started.

“It hurts us all,” says the mayor

A year has passed since the massacre and the accused shooter were waiting for the trial in local and state cases.

Patrick Crusius, a 22-year-old man from Allen, Texas, has been exposed to 90 federal crimes, including hate crimes and nearly a dozen state-level capital murders, according to court documents. He didn’t plead guilty.

Authorities said he went to El Paso to kill immigrants and Mexicans in the border town of West Texas.

El Paso Walmart's shooter is mentally disabled and was in a psychotic state after shooting, the defender says

“It hurts all of us. We were attacked by a white Supremacist … an evil white Supremacist 700 miles away,” said Margo, the city’s mayor, adding that the shooter “would never have come from the region.” It is not who we are. It is not what we are. “

Last month, Crusius’ lawyers said he was in a psychotic state when he was taken into custody a few minutes after the shooting and suffered from intellectual disabilities. They revealed the mental illness in an application asking for more time to investigate the “Red Flag Reduction Issues” issue while the prosecutor’s decision on the death penalty.

A federal status conference is planned for October.

A year after De Alba Montes, his wife, and their 10-year-old daughter stopped in Walmart to buy school supplies before breakfast and were injured in the massacre, there is no clear end to his hospitalization in sight.

On some days he is overwhelmed by sadness and desperate to go home, on other days he greets his wife in a good mood and tells her in Spanish “al rato salimos de esta, vas a ver que todo va a pasar”.

Her nightmare will go away, he tells his wife, because despite the setbacks, her belief is stronger.

“God is the only one who can help us overcome this. God will work the miracle that we can leave the hospital healthy,” said his wife Rodriguez Mariscal.


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