SAN DIEGO — Dozens of people gathered outside Balboa Park’s Centro Cultural de la Raza Sunday evening to honor the lives of the 22 people shot and killed inside an El Paso Walmart.
Investigators said the shooter wanted to stop a “Hispanic invasion” of Texas, according to a document police believe he wrote.
“El Paso is San Diego, San Diego is El Paso. We are both border towns,” vigil organizer Jessica Yanez Perez said. “It does affect us directly because we are so similar.”
Perez said she organized the vigil in 72 hours and spread the word through social media and by word of mouth. “We want to raise our voices and say, ‘We’re together — and we’re with El Paso,'” Perez said.
Dozens of people in attendance lit candles, carried signs and listened to speakers and prayers.
“It must be terrible to be hated for the color of your skin or who your parents were. So I wanted to stand up,” one supporter told FOX 5.
Maria Zuniga, a former professor at San Diego State University’s School of Social Work, spoke about how to talk to children about grief. She also encouraged parents to teach their children kindness at a young age. “Our children are vulnerable and they’re scared,” Zuniga said.
The names of the 22 El Paso shooting victims were also read out loud during the proceedings.
“To the families: just cherish the memories that you have with them,” another supporter told FOX 5. “And know that the American people are behind you.”