El Paso, Texas Mass Shooting: A Survivor’s Story

I found this story going viral on Facebook and I thought of sharing it on my blog. It was written by a woman living in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico who almost every Saturday goes to El Paso to go grocery shopping, just like many others do. As I was reading it, I could feel my heart breaking and my stomach turning into a knot. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how someone can feel like they have the right to take someone else’s life. Or even worse, I’ll never understand how someone can hate others just because of their skin color. Because, no matter how much people in the power try to deny it, this was an attack based on racism.

“It was an ordinary Saturday for me. I woke up early to get ready and go to Walmart to get my groceries. I usually go alone, but this time it was different. My daughter was waking up and I said “you want to go with me to El Paso to get some groceries?”. She said yes and I thought about taking my boys too so my husband could rest, but they were still sleeping and I thought it was best if I let them stay and sleep some more. I told my daughter to just wear some slippers but she insisted on wearing her sneakers. We waited in line for almost 4 hours. I was thinking about turning around because I was getting desperate, but my daughter said “mom, we’re already here”. So we crossed, and got to a different Walmart than the one I usually go to. God only knows why I made the decision to go there. 

I was getting ready to pay, when I hear some loud noises. I noticed some girls with yellow vests, the ones that people working there wear, running in the hall and I think “someone must’ve stolen something”. A minute after that, the scariest moment of my life began. Something horrible happened in front of my eyes: a white man with some kind of headphones and a really, really big gun shot an old man right in front of me. “My daughter!” was my only thought. I saw him loading the gun again and turning towards the McDonalds and started shooting. I got down on my knees and tried to hide. I saw my daughter’s eyes filling with tears, I grabbed her hand and said, “Honey, I need you to take my hand and don’t let go. Run as fast as you can”. We ran through the halls that had always seemed so small; that day it felt like they had no end. As we ran, I saw people falling down, looking for family members and all I could tell my daughter was “don’t look back honey, just run!”. Every shot that I heard I could feel in my back. My mother’s instinct was to not break down crying, be strong and taking my daughter outside on time. People were falling down around me, as I was running for my life.

We made it outside through the back door. We sat down under a tree; people around us were crying, going through mental breakdowns, talking on the phone. I took mine out and called my husband. When I told him what had happened, his reaction was to tell me to get out, take care of myself and my daughter and call him every five minutes. He felt useless, knowing there was nothing he could do. 

Suddenly, I saw a man running towards us, screaming “get out! He’s coming this way!”. I saw people running towards a different store, so I decided to follow them with my daughter. They opened the doors for us and after we got in the manager closed them again, “don’t stand too close to the windows please, you’ll be safe here,” he said. 

While my daughter was on the phone with my husband, more people came into the store running. “He’s coming! Run!”. The doors wouldn’t close this time and people started to freak out. They were throwing punches and pushing each other, trying to get out of the store. I held my daughter as tight as I could, trying not to lose her in the crowd. We were like ants, running in different directions, running for our lives. I made a face call with my husband just to say “I don’t know what to do anymore. I give up.” I was crying, and I could see the desperation in his face. He told me to look for a police officer and to calm down, but the call was abruptly cut. 

Once again I was running for my life, saying to God “If this is your will, I leave it in your hands”. But at the same time, I was talking to my father in law who is in heaven now “please, don’t leave us alone. And please, help us”. Suddenly, a woman driving a car and with desperation in his voice she said  “get in the car! Get the girl in the car!”. I didn’t think it twice. She drove away, to where the police cars were. Thank God, my daughter and I were safe. We only have to live with the trauma of that day. Thank God and my father in law watching from above, we survived that horrendous attack. Never will forget August 3rd, 2019.”

It is no secret now, that according to a “manifesto” that the suspect posted online before the massacre, the attack was fueled by an intense hate towards immigrants, especially Mexicans. Apparently, he was scared of the “Hispanic invasion” of Texas…. But, wait what? There is a reason why there are many families with Mexican descent in Texas:

Up until 1845, Texas was Mexico’s territory. You see,  US citizens started moving to Texas (when it was still part of Mexico) around 1820. When Mexican’s government decided it was time to free the slaves in the state in 1827, it angered many of the slave owners that had moved from the southern states of the US less than a decade before. This, among other reasons, led Texas to declare its independence from Mexico. Then, in 1845-1846, Texas (as well as Oregon) were annexed to the US.

I think is sad that people with the power to use theirs words to move others, don’t use it for the greater good. When we are born, we don’t know what hate is. We don’t know the difference between skin colors. Those things are taught. And whether they are taught at home or through the media, it’s time we start spreading more love. There was a quote from the book “Eat. Pray. Love” that has been stuck in my mind ever since I read it:

“Man is a demon and a god. Both true. This was a familiar idea to me. It’s very Indian, very Yogic. The notion is that human beings are born, as my Guru has explained many times, with the equivalent potential for both contraction and expansion. The ingredients of both darkness and light are equally present in all of us, and then it’s up to the individual (or the family, or the society) to decide what will be brought forth- the virtues or the malevolence. The madness of this planet is largely the result of the human being’s difficulty in coming into virtuous balanca with himself.

Elizabeth Gilbert

As a mexican girl who thought that getting her legal documents to be able to live in the US was the answer to her prayers, I can say that I’m more confused than ever. I thought that was the warmest place in the world, for opening its doors to people running from violence and death. What I found to be the most beautiful thing about the US was its diversity. Its freedom. A land founded by immigrants for immigrants. I think those who claim that “they should go back to their country” don’t have the slightest notion of the history of “their” country. Unless you’re a Native American, you are an intruder too. You come from immigrants too. I understand the anger of having someone come into your home and trying to impose their own traditions over yours. But that doesn’t give you the right to go out there and kill them, leaving babies without parents and parents without babies. A little girl will grow up with the image of her grandpa dying, saving her life; a mother will go to bed every night from now on knowing her son was killed by pure hate.

Maybe feeling disappointed and scared is my fault, for buying those dreams of a peaceful, beautiful land they once sold me. Maybe questioning who I am and if I’m less than others because of where I come from its my fault for falling into their game. Or maybe it’s the society in general, that is so rotten, so easily manipulated. But when is it going to stop? When will people understand that we bleed the same color? That we’re all broken and angry inside? When will they understand that all of this division they (the ones pulling the strings) are creating is to benefit themselves? To keep us busy fighting each other instead of fighting them. We, as a society, are no threat to them as long as we’re divided. What are they so afraid of?

Everytime something like this happens, I remember that quote from Martin Luther King “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that”. All we can do is respond to the madness of the world with light, and love.

To end this post, I would like to share something I wrote the other night while I was trying to clear my thoughts, thinking of the victims; the fear and confusion of knowing someone is willing to kill you because of your roots:

They say he grabbed the keys
And drove ten hours straight,
A dark cloud on his mind,
Fear had made him go blind.
Bullets of hate and lives taken away,
Tomorrow we’ll brush it off,
Another crisis, a brand new day.
And where do I stay?
If my home doesn’t feel safe.
I had come to this land
Chasing dreams, chasing stars.
I loved the flag, cross my heart
I only dreamed of giving back
To the one place that had welcomed me
With open and loving arms.
I look outside my window, tears in my eyes,
The land of dreams is on fire.
They say they hate brown
And I do nothing but look down.
A dark cloud on my mind,
Fear is making me go blind,
Because in the hunter’s eyes
My only mistake was
Not being born white.

2 thoughts on “El Paso, Texas Mass Shooting: A Survivor’s Story

  1. All of this stuff really disturbs me and makes me sad . I’m of mexican descent , and it makes me think twice of going certain places . I was born in America but to someone who holds those awful beliefs like that it wouldn’t even matter .

    Liked by 1 person

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