EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — On the second-year mark of one of El Paso’s most tragic events, the El Paso Healing Garden was unveiled to the families of the 23 Walmart mass shooting victims and the public.
On Aug. 3, 2019, a lone gunman walked into the Walmart next to Cielo Vista Mall in East El Paso and opened fire. Twenty-three people were killed, 23 were injured, and hundreds of thousands of families and people were affected by this tragedy.
El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego led a project to create a permanent memorial for the community to not just mourn the lives lost, but heal together in a safe and unified place.
The El Paso Healing Garden was created with the help of the El Paso Community Foundation and dozens of donations.
On Tuesday evening, the county held a private ceremony for the 23 families joined by local leaders and officials.
Officials from U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser to celebrity George Lopez spoke at the ceremony, reflecting on how the community showed resiliency in the moments, days and months following the mass shooting.
While Aug. 3 is a heartbreaking reminder of the tragedy that took place at the local Walmart, for El Paso, it’s all about healing.
The father of the youngest victim, Javier Amir Rodriguez, 15, told KTSM events like this help the families feel supported and give them another place to heal.
“From the moment I got the call saying that my son was hurt, it feels like it was just yesterday,” Fransisco Rodriguez, his father, said. “It’s a good thing the city (county) is doing this, it’s another spot, another location where the families can come and sit down, relax and enjoy and can come to talk to their families.”
The Healing Garden highlights 23 plaques with the 23 names of the victims killed along with lights and water features.