El Paso honors Boulder, Colorado shooting victims at Cielo Vista’s Grand Candela

Jesus+Ramos+holds+a+%E2%80%9CWe+can+end+gun+violence%E2%80%9D+sign+at+Cielo+Vista+Walmart+while+speeches+are+given+in+call+to+end+gun+violence+on+March+29%2C+2021.+Photo+by+Albert+Silva.+%0A%0A+

Jesus Ramos holds a “We can end gun violence” sign at Cielo Vista Walmart while speeches are given in call to end gun violence on March 29, 2021. Photo by Albert Silva.

Anahy Diaz, Editor-in-Chief

El Paso community members held a vigil Monday, March 29 at Cielo Vista Walmart’s Grand Candela to honor the 10 individuals who died at the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado. 

The vigil, hosted by members of El Paso Young Democrats, was held following the March 22 tragic event where 21-year-old Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa opened fire at a local King Soopers supermarket using an AR-15-style pistol.  

Monday’s event began with speakers sharing their support for the families of the victims, as well as making demands for gun control in the United States. 

“This is about ensuring that citizens can shop safely at a King Soopers,” event organizer, Jesus Ramos, said. “These people are ripped away from us and numbers just tally up. We’ve become senseless to this topic.” 

The speakers were followed by a prayer and moment of silence in memory of the victims.  

“We know what you’re going through and we know your frustration,” Ramos said. “This should be a call to action and should have been a call to action on Aug. 3, 2019.”  

El Paso’s own tragedy occurred on Aug. 3, 2019, when Patrick Crusius traveled from his home in Allen, Texas, to kill 23 and injure dozens at the Walmart where the vigil was held. 

According to a July 2020 indictment, Crusius purchased a GP WASR-10 semiautomatic rifle and 1,000 rounds of hollow-point ammunition online, to use for the attack.  

Attendees, like Hamza Padilla, are no strangers to gun violence. Padilla lost his father, originally from El Paso, in 2017, when he was fatally shot by a man in a parking lot in Tucson, Arizona. 

“I want to see more precise gun control happen in our nation,” Padilla said. “After my father was killed due to guns, it only furthered the need in my heart and soul for gun reform.” 

 Padilla said he was also attending the event on behalf of the Muslim community, after further details of Alissa began to emerge, with many expressing concern and fear over ramped-up Islamophobia. 

“I wanted to come here and tell the people of El Paso and the people of Boulder, on behalf of the Muslim community, that we stand with you and this man is not a representation of our beliefs,” Padilla said. 

Boulder’s shooting came within a week of a killing spree in the metropolitan area of Atlanta, Georgia, where a gunman fatally shot eight people at three spas, with six victims being Asian women.  

According to USA TODAY’s analysis of Gun Violence Archive statistics, mass shootings rose from 417 in 2019 to 611 in 2020, including 95 incidents in June 2020 alone. However, the 103 incidents in 2021, as of March 22, are 53% higher than the 1st-quarter average of the past four years. 

Monday evening’s event concluded with the lighting of 10 candles placed on the Grand Candela’s memorial, which lists the names of the El Paso Walmart’s mass shooting victims.  

“We know your pain, and it shouldn’t be that way,” Ramos said.  

Anahy Diaz may be reached at [email protected]; @by_anahydiaz on Twitter.