Officials in the border city of El Paso will unveil a garden Tuesday that is meant to bring healing two years after a gunman targeting Latinos opened fire at a Walmart, killing 23 people in an attack that stunned the U.S. and Mexico.
Much like the first anniversary of the shooting, many of the events honoring those slain will again be affected by precautions for the coronavirus pandemic. The dedication of the healing garden -- in a county park space dedicated to quiet reflection among water and plants -- will be closed to the public. Victims' families and officials will take part in the ceremony, which will be live-streamed.
Another socially distanced observance will include a luminaria drive-thru. Luminarias are traditional lanterns made from paper bags, sand, and candles or LED lights.
The Aug. 3, 2019, shooting happened on a busy, weekend day at a Walmart that is typically popular with shoppers from Mexico and the U.S.
News from around the state of Texas.
Authorities say Patrick Crusius -- charged with capital murder under Texas law and hate crimes and gun laws at the federal level -- confessed to driving more than 600 miles (966 kilometers) to El Paso from his home near Dallas to target Mexicans. Just before the attack, authorities said, he posted a racist screed online. He has pleaded not guilty, and his defense lawyers have said he has severe "mental disabilities."
In addition to those who died, more than two dozen were injured. Many were citizens of Mexico. El Paso is a largely Hispanic city that forms an international metro area with Ciudad Juarez with more than 2 million people. On the U.S. side, suburbs stretch into New Mexico.
The weekend of the shooting in El Paso was shockingly violent in the United States. Hours after the killings in Texas, another shooter killed nine people in a popular nightlife area in Dayton, Ohio.
Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott issued the following statement Tuesday morning.
"Two years ago today, a heinous and senseless act of violence destroyed countless lives in the El Paso community. As we dealt with the aftermath of the horrific violence and overwhelming grief, we also saw the true spirit of what it means to be a Texan.
People from every corner of the Lone Star State banded together to support and uplift El Pasoans during their time of loss. And together as a state, we stepped up to protect our communities and prevent future tragedies. Following the shootings in El Paso and Odessa, I issued eight executive orders directing state law enforcement to enhance anti-mass violence measures, convened the Texas Safety Commission to identify any shortcomings in our systems, and highlighted DPS’ safe gun storage campaign.
A recommendation from the Texas Safety Action report led to legislation passed this recent legislative session that was championed by Senator Blanco, Representatives Ortega, Fierro, Ordaz Perez, Moody, and Gonzalez. Senator Blanco’s bill increases the penalty to a state jail felony for those who lie during a federal background check that are already prohibited from owning a gun. We also appropriated funding to promote the statewide safe gun storage campaign through 2023. It’s a good start, one that we all look forward to building on each session with the legislature.
Today, and every day, we remember and honor the lives of those cut short that day. And we strive each and every day to create a safer and brighter future for all in the Lone Star State."