On Sunday morning, more news about a pair of unrelated mass shootings within 24 hours spread. Among the thousands of Americans who mourn for the victims of the acts of violence are the workers and shoppers at the local Seguin Walmart.
The business, located at 550 N. State Highway 123 Bypass, refreshed a store memorial — already set up — to include the dozens of lives lost in the El Paso shooting. Previously, the memorial was dedicated to a shooting in Southhaven, Mississippi, where two Walmart employees were killed.
“It’s something that some of our other Walmart’s were doing,” Walmart Manager Marcella Binkley said. “It’s basically what we call, ‘Call Cards for Compassion.’ So after we heard the horrible news we were just trying to send them a little memento, letting them know they are in our thoughts and prayers. Unfortunately, now we’re gonna have to get another one out for the El Paso store, too.”
The memorial is located at the front of the store next to the service center and includes about 10 to 15 cards that can be signed by employees and customers alike, Binkley said. Dozens have already signed the cards and offered condolences and prayers to the families, friends and community of the 22 lives that were lost in El Paso on Saturday.
“So we put it on our local Facebook page at first and we opened it up to associates, then we decided to open it to customers as well to let them know that … all of us are in it together, and all of Seguin can participate,” she said. “So it’s something new for me, I don’t know if it’s been done out in the company before.”
The cards are routinely sent out to their corresponding locations once they are filled and will continue until the signatures stop.
“We really don’t have a date on it,” Binkley said. “I guess once it (signatures) starts slowing down then … we’ll kind of take it from there.”
As a Walmart employee, Binkley admits that the recent events can be jarring, however, she says workers will be on their toes moving forward.
“It’s just unfortunate, really unfortunate,” Binkley said. “This last (shooting) hits really close to home, not that the one in Mississippi isn’t, but when it’s in Texas it’s scary so we’re elevating our heightened awareness.”
The future for Walmart looks to be a safer one, with plans in play that should give employees of the Seguin branch a more in-depth look at how to handle dangerous scenarios like the El Paso shooting.
“We had set up an active shooter training class which Walmart already does for us quarterly,” Binkley said. “That’s been going on for years but our chief of police came and talked to us and he’s going to be doing a special class with us on Thursday and that’s going to open us up and show that we are doing a little extra. We are also going to try and get ahold of the blood bank to see what we can do here on site.”
The El Paso shooting is one of the deadliest in U.S. history, and the death toll rose Monday as doctors announced that two more of the wounded had died. Dr. Stephen Flaherty of Del Sol Medical Center described the wounds as “devastating and major” and said that one patient who died had major abdominal injuries affecting the liver, kidneys and intestines.
The hospital did not release the names or ages of the two patients who died, but hospital officials described one as an elderly woman.
Mexican officials have said eight Mexican nationals were among the dead. Tens of thousands of Mexicans legally cross the border each day to work and shop in El Paso. Another patient remained in critical condition.
El Paso has long prided itself on being one of the safest cities in the nation. When years of drug cartel-driven violence in neighboring Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, left tens of thousands of people dead, El Paso still had one of the nation’s lowest crime rates. Police reported 23 murders last year and 20 the year before that, making Saturday’s rampage a year’s worth of bloodshed.
Authorities searched for any links between the suspect and the material in the document that was posted online, including the writer’s expression of concern that an influx of Hispanics into the United States will replace aging white voters, potentially turning Texas blue in elections and swinging the White House to Democrats.