Seven people died following a mass shooting in Odessa, Texas, on Saturday. Their ages range between 15 and 57 years old, according to Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke. Another 22 people were injured.
“Very sincerely, I say to those families I offer my apologies and my condolences,” Gerke said. “My heart aches for all of them.”
The latest mass shooting to unsettle a nation still reeling from the El Paso and Dayton shootings a month earlier unfolded on Saturday afternoon when Texas authorities said a white man in his mid-30s opened fire on a Texas state trooper after a traffic stop on I-20, a highway that stretches between Midland and Odessa. The shooter went on to open fire in Odessa, and at some point apparently stole a postal service vehicle after abandoning his own car, according to the Odessa police.
One victim was identified as a student in the Ector County Independent School District, while another was a young mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. Yet another victim moved to Odessa from Las Vegas after the mass shooting there, because he thought West Texas would be safer.
Among those shot were officers from the Midland Police Department, the Odessa Police Department and the state trooper; all three are reported to have survived the shooting. A 17-month-old child was also shot and flown to a hospital in Lubbock, where she is expected to recover.
Four people were treated at the Odessa Regional Medical Center, and 13 at the Medical Center Hospital.
“First and foremost, our hearts at Medical Center Hospital are broken,” said Medical Center Health System CEO & President, Russell Tippin in a public statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families on this tragic day. It is a day West Texas will never forget and we urge this community and the nation to come together in prayer.”
Here’s what we know about the victims of Saturday’s shooting.
Leilah Hernandez, 15, was walking out of a car dealership with her family when she was shot in the collarbone, according to the Washington Post.
Her 18-year-old-brother, Nathan, wrapped his arms around Leilah and was shot in the arm, the girl’s grandmother, Nora Leyva, told the Post.
Hernandez pleaded: “Help me, help me,” after she was shot, her grandmother said.
She was an Odessa High School student who had celebrated her quinceañera in May.
“It was like a dream for her,” Leyva said of the celebration.
A 29-year-old mail carrier was among the victims Saturday, the U.S. Postal Service confirmed the following day.
Mary Granados was shot and killed Saturday afternoon when the gunman hijacked her white postal van in the midst of his rampage, the Associated Press reports.
The U.S. Postal Service also said in a statement Sunday that it was “shocked and saddened” about the mass shooting, and were “especially grieving the loss of our postal family member,” per the AP.
Granados’ twin sister, Rosie, told CNN she was on the phone with Mary after she was shot, and said Mary was screaming.
“It was very painful. I just wanted to help her and I couldn’t,” Rosie told CNN. “I thought she had got bitten by a dog or something. I tried calling her name and she wouldn’t answer.”
Rosie also said her sister was at the end of her shift when she was shot.
A friend and former co-worker who set up a GoFundMe page with Mary’s twin sister described Granados as someone who was “beautiful inside and out, with a great heart and always ready to be a friend, always had a smile on her face.”
Rodolfo “Rudy” Arco
Arco’s sister told the Arizona Republic that her 57-year-old brother died instantly after shots were fired at his truck.
Maria Arco told the Republic that her brother, a native of Cuba, moved to West Texas from Las Vegas after the 2017 mass shooting there left 59 dead and more than 500 injured.
She said her brother, a trucking company owner, “felt that Odessa was the place to go. He sold everything in Vegas and moved there, in the hopes that things would be safer for him and the family.”
Joseph Griffith, 40, was killed while sitting at a traffic light with his wife and two children, his older sister, Carla Byrne, told the Washington Post.
“This maniac pulled up next to him and shot him, took away his life, murdered my baby brother. Like nothing,” Byrne said. “We are so broken.”
Griffith was a former math teacher, according to the AP.
The 25-year-old was shot and killed when he ran into the yard of his parents’ Odessa house to investigate the gunshots he had heard, his sister, Eritizi Peregrino, told The Washington Post. He was home for the weekend to tell his family about his new job and life in San Antonio, according to AP.
“It happened at our home. You think you’re safe at your own house,” Eritizi Peregrino, 23, said. “You’re not even safe at your own house.”
Eritizi Peregrino’s husband was also shot, and is recovering, reports AP.
Brown’s employer, Standard Safety & Supply in Odessa, confirmed his death in a statement reported by the AP.
“We are deeply saddened at the loss of a member of our team,” the company said.
AP also cites local station KOSA, which says it received video of Brown dead in a company pickup truck outside a local high school football stadium.
Raul Garcia, an El Paso, Texas, long-distance truck driver and father of four was identified as one of the victims by the Odessa Police Department. He was on his way home after being away for weeks when he was shot and killed, according to the El Paso Times. He was 35.
Here’s what we know about those injured
A 17-month-old toddler was among those shot on Saturday. She received shrapnel in her chest and a hole through her lower lip and tongue. Her teeth were also “knocked out,” according to a message by the child’s mother shared via a GoFundMe account set up for the family.
At a Sunday press conference in Odessa, Texas Governor Greg Abbott read aloud a text message by the child’s mother. “Thank you all for praying. This is all of our worst nightmare, but thank god she’s alive and relatively well,” Abbott read. “Toddlers are funny because they can get shot but still want to run around and play.”
The mother added that the girl’s mouth is “pretty bad,” but can be fixed and will be undergoing surgery on Monday.
According to another GoFundMe account created by a woman who says she is family, Midland Police Officer Zack Owens was among those shot on Saturday.
Abigail McCullough, who identified herself as the wife of one of Owens’ cousins, said Owens was shot multiple times in the arm and hand, and is suffering from glass shards in his eye, his most serious injury. “Please keep Zack in your prayers as we don’t know the outcome of the situation at this time,” she wrote.
Another victim, 28-year-old Daniel Munoz, told the AP he was injured in his car after shattered glass from the shooting punctured his left shoulder, causing a lot of blood and sending him to the hospital.
“I’m just trying to turn the corner and I got shot — I’m getting shot at?” Munoz said. “What’s the world coming to? For real? I’m just over here minding my own business, getting my own gas.”