Stories Of El Paso Shooting Victims Show Acts Of Self-Sacrifice Amid Massacre
Some died trying to protect a loved one or newborn baby from a hail of bullets. Others were killed alongside their spouse as they made routine weekend purchases. Parents were slaughtered while doing back-to-school shopping.
Stories of self-sacrifice, heroism and devastating loss are emerging following the gun massacre on Saturday that killed at least 22 people who came from both sides of the border to a Walmart store in the predominantly Hispanic city of El Paso, Texas.
Those killed include 13 Americans, eight Mexicans and one German. They were as old as 90 years old and as young as 15.
Below are their stories.
Jordan Anchondo, 24, and Andre Anchondo, 23
Jordan Anchondo and her husband, Andre Pablo Anchondo, were killed while shopping for school supplies on what was supposed to be "an average Saturday," according to Jordan Anchondo's aunt, Elizabeth Terry.
Andre Anchondo jumped in front of the gunman, and Jordan Anchondo was killed while she was shielding their newborn son, according to Terry. The baby was treated for bruises and broken fingers but survived.
Andre Anchondo's friend, Benjamin Thompson, told NPR that Anchondo had recently finished building a new house for his family.
Terry described the attack that killed two members of her family "an unthinkable nightmare."
"Now 3 children will never know the love of their parents like we all as family and friend knew them. We lost two amazing humans and we are devastated," Terry wrote online.
Arturo Benavides, 60
Benavides was at a self-checkout register when he was shot, according to his cousin, Lynnsey Sasser. His wife, Patty, was pushed out with a crowd in the opposite direction of the shooting and survived.
The couple had broken their usually habit of going to Walmart after church on Sundays, said Alyssa Lozoya, a cousin.
"This is a tragedy for America and our bordering country of Mexico," Lozoya wrote on Twitter.
Family members said Benavides was a city bus driver and an Army veteran.
"He was an amazing husband, son, brother, godfather and uncle," wrote Jimmy Cerva, a nephew of Benavides.
Leonard Cipeda Campos, 41, and Maribel Hernandez, 56
Leo Campos and his wife, Maribel Hernandez, were both killed in the Walmart.
He was a graduate of the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District located in the McAllen, Texas, area. Campos "was a great athlete and friend to many during his time at PSJA High. He was a goalie for the soccer team and a kicker for the football team. Leo was well liked and a role model to many athletes that looked up to him," said PSJA School Board President Jesse Zambrano in a statement to NPR.
"Rest in peace, hermano," Zambrano said.
The brother of Maribel Hernandez told KFOX14 that the couple went to Walmart after dropping off their dog at a groomer.
"They knew something was wrong when the groomer called and said the couple had not picked up their dog," according to the station.
Raul Flores, 77, and Maria Flores, 77
Raul and Maria Flores retired in El Paso two decades ago after raising their family in Southern California, according to The Washington Post. The couple met in the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez and had been married for 60 years.
On the day of the shooting, they were at Walmart purchasing airbeds for visiting relatives, the Post reported.
"They didn't deserve to go this way, but for me, I take comfort in knowing that they went together," Raul Flores Jr., the couple's oldest son, told the paper.
Jorge Calvillo García, 61
García, who is from Torreón, Mexico, was in El Paso to visit his son, Luis, and his granddaughter, Emily. They were raising money with Emily's soccer team outside of the Walmart, according to KFOX14.
Jorge Calvillo was struck with bullets as he shielded the girls, García's nephew, Raul Ortega, told the station.
Adolfo Cerros Hernandez, 68, and Sara Esther Regalado, 66
The couple's daughter, Sandra Ivonne Cerros, confirmedthat her parents, who are Mexican, were killed in the attack.
"It will be a long process. The funeral arrangements are pending. We are devastated. These have been very difficult hours. Now we are united and living our pain," Hernandez wrote in Spanish. "We thank you infinitely for your prayers, your support and your worries, calls and messages. They have been great company during this time."
A granddaughter, Vielka Yu, posted to Facebook that: "I don't know if there is a heaven or not, but if there is, I hope you're as comfortable and happy as you were here," she wrote, sharing a photo of the couple holding a Mexican strawberries and cream dessert.
Alexander Gerhard Hoffman, 66
Hoffman was a German citizen. A spokesman for the German embassy declined to provide additional details to NPR, citing "protection of data privacy."
David Alvah Johnson, 63
Johnson was at Walmart for back-to-school shopping. He died protecting his wife, Kathy, and their 9-year-old granddaughter, Katie. "He was surrounded by 3 gun shells. That could have been 1 each for him, my aunt, and my niece," Mari Mia Madera, his niece, wrote in a Facebook tribune.
"He protected them from that murderer. And worked as a shield. If he hadn't have been there they wouldn't have made it," Madera wrote.
Johnson's last words directed to his wife were to run toward Sam's Club. Soon after, he was shot dead.
Family members recalled Johnson's affable nature.
"He smiled with his eyes and always addressed you with a high pitched warm welcome, his nephew Dominic Patridge wrote. "I'll never forget that."
Luis Alfonzo Juarez, 90
Juarez and his wife of more than 70 years were shopping for groceries together when they encountered the shooter.
Juarez was the oldest victim in the Saturday attack. His wife has since been released from the hospital, according to KTSM.
"The family described Juarez as an amazing human being, loving, calm, and big–hearted," according to the El Paso-based station. "They say they are utterly heartbroken."
María Eugenia Legarreta Rothe, 58
Legarreta was from a well-known business family from the northwestern Mexican state of Chihuahua.
She had traveled from Chihuahua to El Paso to pick up her youngest daughter, Natalie, from the airport, but decided to stop by Walmart first, and her daughter learned hours later why her mother never showed up at the terminal to get her, NPR reported.
Elsa Libera Marquez, 57
Marquez worked as a special education teacher in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. She had family in El Paso, and would cross the border every week to visit them, according to local press reports.
Marquez stopped by Walmart for a quick purchase. Her husband and son decided to wait in the car while she went in the store. Minutes later, the two heard gunshots and screams.
"I say goodbye to my partner, the most wonderful of all women, a being full of light that will keep illuminating our walk for as long as life has so arranged," wrote Marquez's husband, Antonio de la Mora, a professor at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez.
In a tweet, Mexico's Secretary of Public Education Esteban Moctezuma Barragán said Mexico's education community is "mourning the irreparable loss" of Marquez.
Ivan Hilierto Manzano, 46
Manzano from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, is being remembered as a devoted husband and father who worked in marketing and sales and was an avid marathon runner.
He was on his way out of the Walmart after paying for items when he came across the shooter, according to Jesus Cruz, a childhood friend of Manzano.
Manzano leaves behind two young children, Cruz said.
Gloria Irma Marquez, 61
The family of Marquez, who is from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, says she was a dedicated mother and grandmother, according to Brianna Klein, her niece.
Marquez, a schoolteacher and mother of four, was remember by her niece Joselin Martínez as a loving aunt, writing that she will be remembered as a "cheerful person" with a "big smile."
"Until we get to meet again, we love you very much and we miss you a lot," Martínez wrote.
Margie Reckard, 63
Reckard was "an angel" to Antonio Basco, her husband of more than two decades, he told KFOX-TV, telling the station that the couple's plans had always been to "live together and die together."
He said his wife's selflessness was incomparable.
"I mean you didn't even have to be there to talk to her. You could just look at how she was, how she acted, how she presented herself. She was an awesome lady," he said. "You see Margie, more or less, was the brains of the family."
Dino Reckard, Reckard's son, said in a Facebook post that his mom "will be truly missed by all those that knew and loved her."
Javier Rodriguez, 15
Rodriguez went by Amir. He was the youngest person to die in the El Paso massacre.
His aunt, Elvira Rodriguez, said on Facebook that, "I know my nephew is up in heaven looking down and smiling. I know he knows he'll never be forgotten and he knows how much people love him."
She said the 15-year-old loved playing soccer and did well in school, according to The Arizona Republic.
Express Futbol Club, the league Rodriguez was a part of, said their former player would be missed.
Rodriguez's uncle, Octavio Ramiro Lizarde, was shot in the foot trying to protect him from the shooter, according to KVIA. Lizarde is currently hospitalized.
Teresa Sánchez de Freitas, 82
Sánchez de Freitas, 82, was visitingfrom Mexico when she was killed in the rampage.
Her daughter, Mercedes De Freitas, who goes by "Merchy," works as an executive director for Transparencia Venezuela.
The company took to Twitter to honor her mother.
"Our deepest condolences, words of comfort and high esteem to Merchy, family and friends. Peace to your soul."
Angelina Englisbee, 86
Englisbee, who was known as Angie, was a mother of seven and "a woman of grit, hardwork, perseverance, dedication to family, and her faith in God," her grandson Jacob Hallberg said in a Facebook comment.
Englisbee was widowed early in life, leaving her to raise seven children alone, Hallberg said.
"Working numerous jobs at the same time to feed her family, life was hard," he said.
A devout Catholic and an avid fan of golf, football and basketball, she also had a family reputation of making "the very best" red beans and rice and red chili posole, Hallberg wrote.
Hallberg said at "the lowest point" in his life, Englisbee welcome him into her home "with open arms and no judgement."
"I will never forget everything she did for me and my family. Especially the example she set for strength and perseverance," he said.
She always had a meal and a pot of fresh coffee for her visitors, Hallberg wrote.
"Her over 20 grandchildren and great grandchildren and 7 children are all grieving and lives forever changed by this violent and senseless act of cowardice," Hallberg said.
Juan Velázquez, 77
Velázquez was fatally wounded protecting his wife from bullets, his relatives told Reuters.
His wife, Estela Nicolasa, was shot but survived.
They were about to enter the store to buy groceries, when the gunman opened fire, their niece, Norma Ramos, said.
"He was arriving at the store when he was shot at close range and the bullet passed through him and hit my aunt Estela," Ramostold Reuters. "Because he protected her, he took shots in his back," he said.
Family members said the couple moved to El Paso six months ago and had received U.S. citizenship.
"He fought to get ahead in the United States," his son, Cruz Velázquez, told The New York Times. "My father was very healthy, very hardworking."
Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.