El Pasoans joined by members of law enforcement spent an emotional Sunday morning remembering loved ones in the community who lost their lives.
The week of April 7th through the 13th is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week in the United States. Across the nation, thousands of communities, organizations, and families are joining together to pay tribute to crime victims and advocate for victim’s rights.
El Paso observed National Crime Victims’ Rights week on Sunday with the annual “Crime Victims’ Reading of the Names Memorial Ceremony” at Yucca Park in East El Paso.
For 10 years, the El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza coordinates the ceremony. The memorial service pays tribute to victims in the El Paso community who lost their lives to violent crime by reading their name and ringing a bell in their honor after each name is read.
There are 1,669 names engraved on the Crime Victims’ Memorial. The ceremony also recognized eight victims from this year whose names have not yet been engraved on the memorial.
“It’s a great opportunity for the DA’s office and this community to really stand shoulder to shoulder with them and know that we remember their loved ones and we remember them,” Esparza said.
County Judge Ricardo Samaniego and Sheriff Richard Wiles served as guest speakers for the event, speaking about the recent loss of El Paso County Sheriff Deputy Peter Herrera, who was also recognized at the event. Sheriff Wiles read Herrera’s name aloud first and rang the bell in his honor.
As KTSM previously reported, Deputy Herrera was shot on the job during a traffic stop, then died from his injuries days later, receiving national media attention. His parents were at the ceremony for the reading.
Several dozens of people also mourned their loved ones, honoring them by wearing T-Shirts with their pictures on them, while others had posters and signs of their fallen.
One El Paso family mourned the death of 20-year-old Sylvia Guerrero, who was murdered in June 2018.
Guerrero’s sister said the ceremony helped them cope with her tragic death, saying they will come to visit the memorial to see her name engraved on it and show it to her two-year-old daughter when she’s older.
Meanwhile, a pair of sisters were at the ceremony honoring their brother, Dimitri Aaron Pacheco, who was a victim of gun violence.
“It’s hard being here just because every time we remember Dimitri we just cry,” Belen Pacheco said.
His other sister Wendy Moreno said she thanked the community for putting the ceremony together because they can not only remember her brother but honor the other victims from the community.
Esparza said the District Attorney’s office coordinates a 10-mile walk in early November to honor the victims of crime and their families. The walk begins at the El Paso County Courthouse and ends at Yucca Park where the Crime Victims’ Memorial is at 610 Yarbrough.
“It’s another important event for us to bring attention to the community the importance of the voice of the victim, not just in our community but in our courtrooms as well,” Esparza said.