‘This never happens in El Paso:’ Signal Hill resident reflects on Aug. 3 mass shooting in his hometown.
August 13, 2019
[Editor’s note: The Signal Tribune is expecting to interview Greg Delgado’s cousin, Armando Rosales– who was on the scene of the Aug. 3 shooting in El Paso– sometime this week and will thereafter update this story accordingly.]
Signal Hill resident Greg Delgado was enjoying a weekend trip on the river in Laughlin, Nevada on Aug. 3 when a relative tried to reach him by phone several times to advise him to check on his parents in El Paso after a mass shooting at a Walmart store there.
However, unaware of the incident, Delgado disregarded the calls until later.
“I was on the river, and I received a few phone calls from one of my cousins,” Delgado said. “I was out there with the family, so I ignored it. I didn’t call him back till the evening, and he told me, ‘Hey. Check up on your mom and dad.’ I said, ‘What?’ He goes, ‘Well, there was a shooting there at that Walmart, and there’s like 20-something people dead.’ I said, ‘What the heck?’ So, I hung up the phone and called my parents to make sure they’re OK, and they were, fortunately for us. Everyone was OK. Everyone was at home at that time. So, I called around to all my cousins to make sure they were all OK, and everyone seemed to be fine. But they were just in shock as far as what had happened earlier that day.”
Around 10:40am, 21-year-old Patrick Wood Crusius walked into the Walmart Supercenter near the Cielo Vista Mall and began to open fire on customers with what authorities believe was a semi-automatic civilian version of the AK-47. It is also believed he had published a white-nationalist, anti-immigrant manifesto on a user-generated online message board shortly before the shooting incident, which left 22 dead and 24 injured. It is the worst mass shooting in the country this year and the third-deadliest in the state, according to national news sources.
“The whole city itself is a sad city right now, from what I understand after talking to my mom,” said Delgado, who moved to Long Beach with his mother, father and sister when he was 5 years old. “The Sunday and Monday after [the incident,] you hardly saw any traffic or any kind of movement throughout the city. Everybody was just in shock, including my mom. Every time she spoke about it, she started to break down.”
It’s a store that is familiar to his relatives, who sometimes shop there. Delgado said he visits El Paso several times a year and often shops at the Dillard’s department store in the mall next door.
“One of my cousins that comes to visit to California about two times a year, he was actually on his way to [that] Walmart that day when he decided to go get his car washed,” Delgado said. “The car wash is located right next to Walmart– maybe about half a block away from Walmart– and, after his car wash, he was driving into the parking lot as people were running out. A lady ran up to his window, and she was banging on the window. He rolled down his window and said, ‘What’s going on?’ And she said there’s somebody shooting inside the Walmart. So, he reacted quickly. He saw a family coming out– a man, a woman and two daughters– running out of the store. So, he pulled up and opened up his doors to them and drove them out of the parking lot.”
Delgado said that after his cousin dropped off the family, he called a relative who is a member of law-enforcement in El Paso, but that officer was unaware of what was happening.
The Signal Tribune attempted to speak to Delgado’s cousin about the incident but was not successful by press time.
Delgado explained that it was likely that many people from Mexico were shopping there that day to take advantage of not having to pay sales tax.
“I guess that time that everyone was in there was what they call Tax-Free Day,” he said. “People from Mexico cross the border to shop there because they don’t charge taxes on those days.”
Delgado said that, having grown up in Long Beach, he has grown rather accustomed to the idea of commonplace gun ownership, but he is surprised about the gun violence that occurred Aug. 3 in his hometown.
“If you’ve lived here in Long Beach for quite some time, you know there’s plenty of guns to go around,” he said. “There’s a gun for everybody here. I’m sure it’s like that in other places too. In El Paso, it’s more of a friendly place– everyone is really, really friendly there. You can walk by someone, and they’ll say hi to you. And, for the most part, it seems that everyone knows everyone in El Paso.”
When asked how he thinks the shooting will affect the residents of El Paso, Delgado said he expects people will be more careful.
“They’re going to be more cautious, of course,” he said. “More cautious of everything around them. This never happens in El Paso. El Paso’s one of those safe cities. This is my personal opinion, but it seems there’s a policeman on every block that lives there. There’s a lot of law-enforcement in El Paso. That’s why it’s one of the safest cities around. Around the corner from my mom, there’s a county sheriff, and I have family members who are in law-enforcement in El Paso, whether it’s border patrol or police.”
He said, just recently, he and his wife had contemplated relocating to the Texas town.
“We were looking into moving to El Paso just a few months ago, until we bought a house here in Signal Hill,” he said. “My wife is from Wilmington, California, and she’d never been to El Paso, so I took her when we got married [nine years ago], and she loved it.”
The recent shooting, however, is not deterring the couple from keeping El Paso in mind for their future residence.
“We still plan to move out there, maybe in about three or four years,” he said. “She just loves it out there. She loves the peace, tranquility, the way people raise their kids, the way [people] are involved in school, and the ways they interact with each other.”