El Paso first responders honor victims 1 year after Walmart active shooter

Members of the El Paso Fire Department reflected on their response to the shooting that killed 23 people

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By Laura French

EL PASO, Texas — First responders in El Paso, Texas are commemorating the first anniversary of the shooting that killed 23 people at a Walmart on August 3, 2019.

Members of the El Paso Fire Department recounted their response to the shooting, which also wounded another 23 people, in interviews published on the city's YouTube channel. Lt. Christopher J. Carson and Firefighter-Paramedic Ricardo Nava described the difficult scene outside of the shopping center and their emotions surrounding the attack in their community. 

Nava, who treated one of the victims who was killed, as well as the victim's wife, who survived, spoke about the phone call he made to his wife that day, asking her to call other family members to make sure they were OK. 

"While you're working, you don't think about stuff like that, but once you have a second to think, you start realizing that your family might be in there," Nava said. "You're in firefighter mode – once you get a call, you're going, and you don't think of anything else but doing your job."

Carson, who served as a triage officer at the scene, emotionally recalled assisting Jordan Anchondo, who died along with her husband Andre while both shielded their infant son.

"She was looking around. I know she was looking for her baby," Carson said. 

A ceremony was held Sunday to commemorate the victims along with a groundbreaking for the El Paso County Community Healing Garden. During the ceremony, 23 beams of light were projected to represent the 23 victims of the attack, according to the Associated Press. The ceremony was closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions and attended by family members of the victims and a small number of officials, religious leaders and other presenters. 

Authorities say the shooting suspect, who is charged with capital murder and hate crimes, was targeting people of Mexican heritage. 

Carson stated that the anniversary should be a time to put aside division and remember the unity of the El Paso community in the aftermath of the shooting. 

"Don't forget how we were able to come together that day and be super strong and El Paso strong, and how it didn't matter what side of the fence or anything. None of that mattered that day, it was just, everybody was there to help people that were hurt," Carson said. 

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