EL PASO, TX (KRQE) – President Trump’s visit to El Paso divided a community — a community still left reeling from Saturday’s mass shooting that left 22 people dead.
The suspect, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, is believed to be a white supremacist who wrote a four-page manifesto that included hatred toward Hispanics and immigrants.
Some Texas lawmakers have harshly criticized the president over his rhetoric about immigrants. For that same reason, protestors told the president he wasn’t welcome in El Paso, while others came to his defense.
At a growing memorial for the victims, it’s been a mix of people coming together to honor the lives lost, and people divided over their political opinions and who or what is to blame for this.
“It’s horrible. It’s horrible to stand here and see across the parking lot and see that 20 people died and were shot dead, for no reason, none, none…children,” Alma Guevarra said.
The 22 people gunned down at the Walmart near the Cielo Vista Mall on Saturday included 15-year-old Javier Rodriguez and 90-year-old Luis Alfonzo Juarez. They’re the reason hundreds came to the memorial Tuesday, to honor those lives.
“We are a strong community. I’m very proud of El Paso. Proud to be an El Pasoan, proud to be a Texan,” Ericka Pacheco said.
But when Donald Trump’s arrival neared, more people wanted to make their political opinions known.
“I want to show that El Paso doesn’t support him. We don’t want to be associated with him, we don’t offer him our support. We want him out of office. He’s not welcome, we don’t want him here,” Rebekah Smith said.
Tensions rose as others held up signs to welcome the president.
“As soon as I put my sign up, people started covering mine up and then the police officer came over and said, ‘you need to move because you are starting to cause trouble,'” a man said.
El Paso police warned people via Twitter not to dishonor the victims by “clashing against each other.” Meanwhile, officers in riot gear surrounded the hospital, where President Trump was scheduled to meet with doctors, nurses and some injured victims.
He spoke briefly about it afterward.
“They have done an incredible job. Both places just incredible, and the enthusiasm, love, respect and seeing if we can get something done and Republicans want to do it, Democrats want to do it,” President Trump said.
He also met with officers at the El Paso Emergency Operations Center. After the president’s departure, his outspoken critic, presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, who is from El Paso, paid a visit to the memorial.