The bishop of El Paso, Texas, met with the families of those who were killed and wounded during the 3rd August shooting at a Walmart in the city where he serves, and in a statement following the meeting said his heart “was breaking,” after seeing up-close the human aftermath of the crime.
“As a minister I am called to be present to those who suffered this attack and to their families. I need to do so with a sense of composure,” said Bishop Mark J. Seitz in the statement. “But as I visited with victims and those they love, my heart was breaking within me. Their questions are mine as well. Why the innocent children? Why the mothers with babes in their arms? Why should any human being ever be subjected to such violence?”
By 5th August, the death toll had climbed from 20 to 22 reported fatalities and 26 injured from what is, so far, the eighth-deadliest mass shooting on US soil.
On 4th August, Bishop Seitz participated in an evening vigil for the victims with other faith leaders as part of the InterFaith Alliance of the Southwest, less than a mile from where the shooting took place, the local El Paso Times newspaper reported on its website. Gathered with members of the Jewish community as well as of other faiths, Bishop Seitz and other Catholics from the diocese lit candles and prayed for the victims.
Authorities have Patrick Crusius, 21, who is suspected of the crime, under custody and expect to soon charge him. Several news organisations said local and federal authorities are investigating whether the shooting was a possible hate crime since the suspected gunman may be linked to a manifesto that speaks of the ‘Hispanic invasion’ of Texas. If that’s the case, authorities could ask for the death penalty.
Picture: Serenity Lara cries during a 4th August vigil, a day after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. Pope Francis joined Catholic Church leaders expressing sorrow after back-to-back mass shootings in the United States left at least 31 dead and dozens injured in Texas and Ohio on 3rd and 4th August. (CNS photo/Callaghan O’Hare, Reuters).