JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) — A few minutes before a gunman came into the store an opened fire with an assault-style rifle, Ivan Filiberto Manzano had walked into the Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall to pick up a package.
On Thursday, his relatives, members of his evangelical congregation and former coworkers came to say goodbye to Manzano, one of the eight Mexican citizens killed in the Walmart massacre that claimed 22 lives.
Manzano was better known for his stint with Mexican radio station chain Megaradio, where he worked sales and marketing for nearly four years. However, those close to him said he was devoted to his family — he had a wife and two preteen children — and his church.
“He taught the Bible to young people, he spent a lot of time with them. He was a follower of Christ,” said Margarita Acosta, a member of the Vino Nuevo evangelical congregation. “(Church members) are saddened and surprised (about his death), but we know that when we open our heart to Christ, he will forever look after us.”
Manzano’s funeral service was private and few relatives stopped to speak to the dozens of reporters and cameramen gathered outside the Lopez Mateos Avenue branch of Perches Funeral Home in Juarez. The doors were opened, however, for one guest from El Paso.
“I came to express my condolences to Mrs. Manzano — Ivan’s mother — and their family. They have family on both sides of the border,” said Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke. The former U.S. representative from El Paso’s 16th Congressional District earlier in the day met with the Mayor of Juarez and with Chihuahua Gov. Javier Corral to express solidarity.
“I told the governor we are with him, we are with the families who are hurt. We want to demonstrate that we are one community, El Paso and Ciudad Juarez … and though we were meant to feel fear by the terrorist — he wanted to change us — we will show the world how strong we are,” O’Rourke said. “We are not going to change because of this. El Paso and Juarez have a very special relationship and that is going to continue.”
Corral’s office, meantime, said that in a show of cross-border solidarity, Juarez and El Paso residents would form a “human chain” on both sides of the Rio Grande levee on Aug. 17. The governor said this would be a “gesture to reaffirm” that El Paso and Juarez are a single community united in brotherhood.
Juarez reporters were eager to hear what O’Rourke had to say about President Trump’s visit to El Paso on Wednesday. “This community is focused on healing, not hatred, not racism. … Our community and our country will not be defined by Donald Trump’s small-mindedness,” he said. The former congressman added that border residents shouldn’t be afraid to continue their cross-border routines just because of the shooting. As if to emphasize the point, O’Rourke walked over the Paso del Norte Bridge and proceeded on foot to a vehicle waiting on a side street.
As O’Rourke spoke to reporters at the Funeral Home, across the city another Juarez victim of the mass shooting, former elementary school teacher and principal Elsa Mendoza was being buried. Like Manzano, Mendoza had gone into the Walmart minutes before the gunman showed up. She had gone to buy school supplies for the upcoming school year.
The families of three of the eight Mexicans killed on Saturday at the Walmart have chosen to have the funerals in El Paso, according to the Mexican consulate. With the bodies of Mendoza and Manzano already in Juarez, three bodies remain to be repatriated, the consulate said, declining to state when those victims would be going home.