DALLAS — This was one of the most difficult assignments of my career.
I can’t get it out of my mind. I just keep thinking that could have been all of us.
I learned the news late Saturday morning, and two hours later, I was on a plane. I arrived in El Paso just a few hours after one of the most devastating events in the city’s history.
One of the first people I met was Edie Hallberg. She rushed up to media outside the Walmart begging for our help. She wanted us to spread the word so we could help her find her mother, Angie Engilsbee.
Angie was an 86-year-old mother of seven, and a grandmother to more than 20. Angie doesn’t normally shop at Walmart on Saturdays, but she went on Aug. 3 because she just wanted to pick up a couple of things. And that is where she died.
I just keep thinking that could have been all of us.
Juan Rodriguez went to Walmart with his uncle that same fateful day. His uncle told me all he wanted to do was buy school supplies, but he never made it out of the store alive. Juan was 15 and about to start his sophomore year of high school.
That could have been all of us.
But there were so many displays of love in El Paso. The memorial grew day by day and it felt like almost everyone greeted each other with a hug.
Sadly, this type of situation is all too common. This happened at a Walmart but we’ve seen it at a church, school, movie theater, concert and nightclub.
So it makes me wonder, have we just accepted this as the new normal? Or are we all working to ensure it never happens again?
We’ve seen some elected leaders say they want to take action, but tonight I’m asking myself what can I do? For people like Angie, Javier and the 20 others who died, something needs to be done.
If for no other reason than the simple reality this could have been all of us.
So what about you? What will you do?