‘We Will Get Through This': Midland, Odessa Gather for Prayer Vigil Following Mass Shooting

Even in a community known for its resilience, neighbors reached for each other Sunday evening in Odessa.

Several hundred people gathered at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin for a community healing ceremony.

Many looked for words of comfort in the face of unspeakable evil.

"In West Texas you have to be tough," said Odessa mayor David Turner, citing extreme weather conditions and a fluctuating oil industry. "Yesterday was a horrible day that shook us to our very foundation but it will not break us."

Turner and Midland Mayor Jerry Morales spoke to the crowd and provided new details on Saturday's "mobile active shooting" in the Permian Basin.

A T-shirt machine cranked out free shirts with a message for residents: Permian Basin Strong.

A local florist handed out free flowers and handmade cards offering prayers for those impacted.

"We just wanted to pass out some love just to let people know that we love them," Jodie Gonzales said.

Gonzales said she felt especially moved by the tragic event.

She said she'd just left Cinergy Cinemas with her grandchildren shortly before a gunman led police to the area and brought with him a hail of gunfire.

"It was really scary. [I] just tried really hard not to panic," she said.

Jaszlen Rodriguez and her family were among those gathered in the university's quad for the prayer service.

Rodriguez, 15, wore a bright yellow T-shirt with a tribute to the youngest person to die in the shooting: 15-year-old Leila Hernandez.

"She was a very nice person," Rodriguez said. "She was always laughing and smiling."

Hernandez is among the seven innocent people killed in Saturday's massacre.

Turner told the crowd that at one point during the massive emergency response the city ran out of ambulances.

Turner said that is when officers and civilians rushed injured people to the hospital in their own vehicles.

Contact Us