El Paso mass shooting survivors reflect on gun violence and grief 4 years later

Four years ago, a gunman entered a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 23 people and wounding 22 others. The shooter targeted Hispanic shoppers in one of the deadliest attacks on Latinos in U.S. history and was sentenced in federal court to 90 consecutive life sentences. We hear reflections from two people intimately connected to the tragedy of that day.

Read the Full Transcript

Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    Four years ago today, a gunman entered a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, fatally shooting 23 people and wounding 22 others.

    The shooter targeted Hispanic shoppers in one of the deadliest such attacks in U.S. history. Last month, he was sentenced in federal court to consecutive life sentences, as grief-stricken family members read emotional statements in court.

    We hear reflections now from two people intimately connected to the tragedy of that day.

  • Adria Gonzalez, El Paso Shooting Victim:

    My name is Adria Gonzalez. And I live right now in Georgia. And I am a Walmart shooting survivor.

    Tito Anchondo, Brother of Andre Anchondo: My name is Gilberto Luis Anchondo. Everybody calls me Tito. And I lost my brother Andre Anchondo and his wife, Jordan Anchondo, in the El Paso Walmart shooting.

  • Adria Gonzalez:

    Once we heard the gunshots going on, the first thing that happened to me was how many were there, how many shooters, or what was really going on.

    So, I left my mother in the meat section and I went to the front. And that's when I saw everything, a body laying down with blood, people screaming. And I saw him for some seconds as he was holding the gun. I took off my cap and just started yelling in Spanish and English: "Vamonos. Vamonos. Let's go. It's this way," because that was our Walmart.

  • Tito Anchondo:

    My dad got nervous because he knew that my brother was going to be in that area. I started just calling, and he didn't answer.

    It turns into like a dream, kind of. Like, you start hearing things, and your mind's trying to process it. One of my brother's friends, his dad was one of the police officers at the scene. And I said: "Please, please, man, just tell me, like, is my brother alive or dead?"

    And he was like: "I just want you to know, Tito," he's like, "Your brother is a hero. He tried to stop the guy. He protected his family. And I just want you to know that your brother's a hero."

    So that's when I kind of know things were not looking good.

  • Adria Gonzalez:

    Before, I did say that I do forgive him. But now that time passes and I have a baby now, it really angers me sometimes that there has not been any justice yet for us.

    There's a saying in Mexico, an eye for an eye, teeth by teeth. (speaking Spanish)

    The reason that I want the death penalty is because these type of people are like virus. It's not about feelings. It's about justice, because what I saw that morning, bodies with blood, him with the weapon. I even heard from his mouth: "F the Mexicans."

    He didn't care.

  • Tito Anchondo:

    A lot of people get upset because I'm against the death penalty, because I think that's just too easy. That's just like an easy out.

    I think it's worse punishment sitting with your thoughts, knowing that you got arrested in jail and you have no freedoms left. I think that's the worst punishment a human being can get.

    I was able to look that guy in his eyes and forgive him and let him know that his actions will not affect the rest of my life.

    My brother was a very loyal type of person. He was a great, funny individual. He was about to be a great father. The next year, following the shooting, my father dies as well. It's very depressing at times. I'm not going to lie. It does get very depressing.

    But, at the same time, it's something that has helped me change my life for me to become a little bit more responsible and mature.

  • Adria Gonzalez:

    I'm very happy that I'm not in El Paso anymore.

    Mentally, it was not helping me to be in El Paso. It hurt me, to the point where I would drive and I would see that Walmart. It was too much for me.

    I personally changed who I trust now, how I go to stores or restaurants. Before I go, I check where the exit doors are. If I park somewhere, I look at the license plates. I look who comes out of the car.

    My wife considered that I should go and take some courses of how to shoot a gun. And now I carry a weapon with me. I don't like carrying guns. It's not in me. But with what's going on, now that I have a baby with me, now that I have my child, now it's not only my protection, but it's my baby's protection now.

  • Tito Anchondo:

    My nephew's doing really, really amazing. He reminds me a lot of my brother. He was at my mom's house. He was staring at a photo of his father, and he was crying.

    And she said: "What's wrong, mijito? What's going on?"

    He said: "I miss my dad."

    So, it's strange to see like a — sorry. It's strange to see — you see them as children who would, like — like, you think that they're not as intelligent, as a full-grown adult. But that's completely wrong.

    We need to show my nephew and my daughter love, so that they don't grow up and thinking that this world is just full of fear and danger.

  • Adria Gonzalez:

    I'm still looking for some closure, but it's getting there.

    What moves me is my family. What moves me is just to wake up in the morning and take my coffee. Just simple things in life are what — that's what makes me happy, and just waking up and seeing my daughter's eyes and seeing that she's OK. That's my closure, knowing that she is OK.

Listen to this Segment