EL PASO, Texas — A girls’ soccer team was selling chicharrones and aguas frescas right outside Walmart when shots rang out in the parking lot Saturday morning.
The EP Fusion, an all-girls soccer team for girls 11 and younger, was in the middle of their annual fall fundraiser when the alleged gunman, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius began his attack, killing 20 and wounding 26.
“We heard the first shot come out and we kinda just looked at each other,” said assistant coach Benny McGuire, whose daughter plays for the team.
McGuire said he didn’t realize it was gunfire at first, but he noticed smoke pop up near where the team had set up their tent on the east end of the store (The gunman, McGuire said, entered the store through the entrance on the west end).
“That’s when I heard the second, third and fourth (shots), and I realized, ‘OK, we’re getting shot at,'” McGuire said. “And I turned and looked at my girls and I said, ‘Run.’ You know, ‘just run. I’ll catch you, I’ll catch up to you guys.”
McGuire said he stayed behind only briefly before he, too, ran off. When he got the children to safety, he said he went back to retrieve his car.
“There was a lady laid out on the floor, and I ran up to her and rendered her aid,” McGuire said. “She was bleeding. When I got to her whole head was a mess.” He said the woman appeared to be loading groceries into her truck when she was struck.
“You know, casually just putting her groceries away. And this dude just came shooting,” he said.
McGuire said he soon realized he couldn’t help the woman. That’s when he looked up and saw that two of his fellow coaches had been wounded.
One of those coaches is Memo Garcia. He and his wife, Jessica Coca Garcia, were shot multiple times. The couple’s 5-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter were also at the Walmart and were not shot.
“So I ran over to (Memo Garcia) to see what I can help him with or see what I can do,” McGuire said. “And I just kept asking him like, ‘Hey, what’s wrong.’ And he said, ‘I got shot, I’m hit, I’m hit.’ I said, ‘where are you hit.’ And he’s like, ‘in my leg and my stomach somewhere.’ He was like, ‘I’m hit, I’m bleeding.’ I said, ‘well, just put pressure on it.'”
Behind the tent, McGuire said a man was helping the EP Fusion head coach, who had also been shot.
“So I started yelling out for help from the police officer, and I kept yelling at them, ‘Hey, hey, we got two down … we got two down and one dead,” he said.
McGuire didn’t realize his own life was still in danger.
“I had one police officer run up to me. He’s like, ‘you need to get out of here,” McGuire said. “He’s like, ‘the shooter’s still on-site … we’re trying to capture him. You need to get out of here, it’s not safe.'”
The girls and their siblings, however, were unharmed. Even though McGuire says none of the children saw any of the violence that took place, he worries that it’s something that they will have to live with forever, including his daughter Madison.
“She tells me that she just keeps playing back us running and running and running and she can hear the gunshots going off,” McGuire told KTSM. “I mean, we had nothing but a bunch of little girls fundraising for a good cause for themselves and you know, this evil took over and ruined a perfectly good day. … So the traumatization that’s gonna be left on them is gonna be something that can never be taken away.”
Norma Coca, Jessica Coca Garcia’s mother, told Wichita, Kansas-television station KWCH that her daughter shot three times in the leg and is in stable condition, while her son-in-law, Memo Garcia, was shot twice in the leg and once in the back and was in critical condition.
“She was just crying … I told her that our prayers are there and we’re on our way,” said Don Coca, Jessica Coca Garcia’s father, adding that they have family in the El Paso area who were able to be with the couple.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.