It was one thing much more terrifying: an ambush, carried out by a gunman who made no secret of his hatred of Latinos.
“We’re all feeling it. We’re all shaken about it,” mentioned Vicki Gaubeca, who lives in Tucson, Arizona, and is the manager director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition. “Rhetoric is enabling racists and white supremacists and individuals who hate the opposite. It has emboldened them to behave out in methods which might be terribly violent and hurtful to our communities.”
“He mentioned the fitting phrases, however his coronary heart clearly was not into it. He did not deviate one phrase from what was on the teleprompter,” mentioned Jorge Chepote, a 49-year-old enterprise govt in St. Louis. “You decide folks by their actions. Till now, his actions have solely contributed to this.”
“He is encouraging this. He is sowing the seeds of hate right here,” mentioned Asuncion Bilbao, a group organizer for United We Dream in Florida.
“That is severe,” she mentioned. “One thing like this might occur once more.”
A father fears for his youngsters’ security
Even earlier than particulars emerged in regards to the gunman’s manifesto, Chepote knew one thing he’d dreaded had come to cross.
“Now that it has occurred, it turns into extra actual,” he mentioned on Tuesday. “It is not that we’ll change the best way we dwell our lives, as a result of that will be giving into the worry, however actually it is one thing that we should be extra cautious about.”
Chepote, a naturalized US citizen, mentioned he is afraid for his youngsters’s security — however much more afraid in regards to the route his nation is heading. He hopes to see extra safety measures now at occasions within the Latino group and, extra importantly, hopes the taking pictures will likely be a wake-up name.
“I simply hope we do not neglect about it,” he mentioned. “If folks see that nothing occurs, it (violence) will proceed to occur. … Typically you’re in the course of historical past and you do not notice, that is huge. And we can not let it turn into regular. And it is changing into regular. That is for me the principle fear.”
In Wisconsin, Christine Neumann-Ortiz mentioned the El Paso taking pictures instantly made her consider what she’s seen unfolding in her personal group — from hate crimes concentrating on immigrants to lecturers from immigrant backgrounds dealing with bullying at colleges.
“There isn’t any query that folks acknowledge that they are being focused, that numerous protections that they had up to now have been ripped away,” mentioned Neumann-Ortiz, , govt director of Voces de la Frontera, an immigrant advocacy group. “There’s extra worry.”
However that, she mentioned, is also galvanizing extra folks to prepare and struggle for his or her rights.
“The Trump candidacy and presidency … has actually escalated the assaults broadly on all people without delay. And it is introduced folks collectively, indubitably, and it is woken up individuals who had not been energetic into activism,” she mentioned. “I feel the extra rights we have misplaced … the extra clear issues are.”
Individuals in El Paso are watching their backs
In El Paso, a metropolis the place greater than 80% of the inhabitants is Latino, the devastation the taking pictures left behind is palpable days later. Even individuals who do not know the victims advised CNN they’re struggling to maneuver ahead after the assault.
“I at all times felt secure. And this was at all times someplace the place I might at all times really feel assured that it could not occur right here,” 26-year-old Adriano Perez advised CNN Monday night at a vigil for the victims. “To seek out out that this was an act of home terrorism rooted in white supremacy … was I feel the actual turning second, the place it was worse.
“As a result of now, he got here right here deliberately for the exact same causes that I really like this metropolis. … He got here right here to assault our lovely immigrant group the place we take care of each other, the place we glance out for one another.”
Carmela Morales, 59, mentioned she has been avoiding grocery purchasing for the reason that taking pictures. However on Tuesday her want for bottled water, ham and eggs compelled her to go to a different Walmart within the metropolis.
She panicked within the car parking zone when she noticed a blonde man who appeared to be license plates. She feared he may very well be one other attacker, placing Latinos in his crosshairs.
“Now they’re out, searching us,” she thought to herself, eying the person warily as she walked into the shop.
The person turned out to be simply one other shopper, however nonetheless she rushed to collect up her groceries. Morales observed some back-to-school offers however did not even linger on the sale racks.
“I simply did not really feel secure,” she says. “I received my eggs, I received my water and I simply needed to get out of there.”
It is a new regular, Morales mentioned, that she does not anticipate to enhance.
“The saddest factor isn’t what’s occurring now. It is what’s going to occur to the youngsters of our kids,” she mentioned. “This can solely worsen for our nation and much more for our folks.”
“The those that have been focused have been those that look similar to me,” mentioned Ivan Flores, 27, an insurances dealer in El Paso. “I’ve a six-month previous [child] at residence…I do not know what my household could be going by means of in the event that they misplaced me and his mother similar to three youngsters misplaced their dad and mom right here.”
One other resident, Claudia Portillo, is aware of how worry can take over your life. She fled Ciudad Juarez greater than 20 years in the past after her husband was killed to start out a brand new life along with her youngsters throughout the border. She says El Paso embraced her household.
However now, town that sheltered them feels completely different. They’re extra hesitant to exit, and so they’re trying to find methods to guard themselves.
“I am reliving these reminiscences of residing in Juarez again within the ’90s. You’re looking behind your again on a regular basis,” mentioned Portillo, 52. “My youngsters are grown adults, 29 and 27. They needed to bury their dad 23 years in the past and now — oh my goodness — it is right here. I do not need it to be right here.”
CNN’s Nicole Chavez reported from El Paso. CNN’s Catherine E. Shoichet reported from Washington. CNN’s Eliott C. McLaughlin, Gianluca Mezzofiore and Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.