County to build Memorial Garden for victims of Aug. 3 mass shooting

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Time constraints, COVID-19 concerns delay start of construction at El Paso's Ascarate Park

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — El Paso County is planning to honor the victims of the Aug. 3, 2019, mass shooting with a memorial garden in Ascarate Park.

Initial plans called for the memorial to be inaugurated on the first anniversary of the Walmart massacre. However, County Judge Ricardo Samaniego says there’s not enough time to get it done properly while taking COVID-19 safeguards into consideration.

“We have the first anniversary of August 3rd and, of course, conditions have changed,” Samaniego said at Monday’s County Commissioners Court. “So, how do we mitigate (those conditions) and do something very significant for such a beautiful community … and help with the healing process and deal with the virus and (its) implications on outdoor activities?”

Samaniego said there would still be a memorial ceremony at Ascarate Park to mark the anniversary and break ground. But the construction would start at a late date.

El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego (left) speaks during Monday’s El Paso County Commissioners Court meeting about the Memorial Garden for the victims of the Aug. 3, 2019 mass shooting.

“We are still looking at something very spectacular for that day without the memorial,” he said. El Pasoans “need a healing garden where anybody can be able to go an meditate and continue the healing process. That is what we are continuing to do.”

On Aug. 3, 2019, a gunman who allegedly posted an online manifesto railing against a Hispanic invasion of Texas drove to El Paso with the intention of “killing Mexicans,” according to local and federal authorities.

The gunman walked into the Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall killing 23 people and wounding another 23. Patrick Crusius, a resident of North Texas, was arrested the same day and has been indicted for hate crimes and murder. He faces charges both in federal and state court.

Samaniego said the delay would allow the County to formalize donations for the memorial garden.

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