National

The lives lost in El Paso

A young mother and a devoted husband are among the dead.

Candles, flowers and dedications appear at an impromptu memorial to the El Paso shooting victims. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)
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At least 22 people were killed when a gunman opened fire Saturday at a Walmart and shopping center in El Paso. They were U.S. citizens and Mexican citizens. One was identified by authorities as a German citizen.

Below are stories of some of the victims.

We’ll continue to update these profiles as we learn more.

Jordan Anchondo, 24, and Andre Anchondo, 23

For Jordan and Andre Anchondo of El Paso, Saturday was meant to be a day of celebration.

The couple had just marked their first wedding anniversary, according to Andre’s older brother, Tito Anchondo. Their oldest daughter was turning 6, Tito Anchondo said, and the couple was ready to show off their new house. Friends and family were invited to a big party on Saturday, but the Anchondos never made it.

On Saturday, after dropping the 6-year-old off at cheerleading practice, the Anchondos headed with their infant son to a Walmart for school supplies and party decorations. There, a gunman opened fire, killing Jordan.

The moment he heard about the shooting, Tito Anchondo began calling his brother and sister-in-law but got no response. Several hours later, he received a call from authorities, who asked him to identify Jordan. He said he rushed to the hospital with the rest of his family to find Jordan, who had died, and his infant nephew, who survived but had several broken bones. Andre was not there.

On Sunday night, family members confirmed to The Post that Andre was killed too.

Andre had just started to turn his life around, the brother said. The El Paso native had been in a rut for a few years, but that changed when he met Jordan.

“She was his support system,” Tito said. “When he met Jordan, it gave him more reason to get on track with his life. He got his life in order.”

In 2018, Andre left the family auto-repair business to set up his own shop, Andre House of Granite and Stone. Business for his brother had been good, Tito said.

In his free time, Andre worked to build a house for his young family, laboring under the Texas sun hours at a time to get everything just right.

Jordan was a stay-at-home mother of three, Tito said: The 6-year-old and 1-year-old daughters were from earlier relationships, and she had the 2-month-old with Andre. Jordan’s sister, Leta Jamrowski, told the Associated Press that based on the baby’s injuries, it appeared that Jordan died while trying to shield the baby from the shooter.

“He pretty much lived because she gave her life,” Jamrowski, 19, told the AP.

“We’re angry, we’re sad,” Tito said. “There’s disbelief. There are just no words.”

— Rebecca Tan and Meagan Flynn

Arturo Benavides, 60

Arturo Benavides lived for his family, his dog and upside-down pineapple cake.

He was running an errand Saturday with his wife, Patricia Benavides. The El Paso couple were almost out of the Walmart, paying for their groceries at a register, when a gunman opened fire, according to a great-niece.

Someone pushed Patricia Benavides, 63, into a bathroom stall and she was able to get away unhurt, accompanied by police, said Jacklin Luna, the great-niece. Arturo Benavides, 60, did not escape.

His extended family gathered and waited in agony for hours until they heard official word Sunday morning: Benavides “wasn’t able to make it out,” Luna, 23, said through tears in an interview with The Washington Post.

Patricia Benavides is still inconsolable, Luna said, mourning the loss of her soul mate, a man characterized first and foremost by his total and unswerving devotion to family. They had been married more than 30 years.

“If anyone ever needed anything, he was the first one there: If we needed a ride, a shirt or a meal, he was always the first person to offer anything he had,” Luna said. “Whenever we all went out to eat, he would pay the whole bill, he didn’t want anyone to spend a dime.”

Every week, Arturo Benavides would phone everyone in the family to see how they were doing, Luna said. He wanted to know: How are your grades in school? How is work, did you get that promotion?

Benavides had retired about two years ago after working as a bus driver for Sun Metro, El Paso’s public transit agency, Luna said. Before that, she said, he served in the Army, an experience that left him eager to spin military stories for anyone and everyone who would listen.

He loved to regale family members with tales of any kind, Luna said, calling him “a natural storyteller.” Retirement gave him more time to savor and share memories of his childhood. He hadn’t wanted to stop working, but his wife insisted. Luna said Benavides was slowly coming to realize the benefits of leisure time. Luna’s sister had recently given Benavides a dog, a husky mix called Milo, and that helped, Luna said.

“He was starting to enjoy his time just at home, he would sit outside with his oldies music — he loved the ’60s and the ’70s — and his dog, who he just fell in love with,” Luna said. “Something as simple as that would make him happy.”

Benavides would have turned 61 in October, and Luna already knew what she planned to make him. Every year for his birthday, he requested the same thing: a pineapple upside-down cake. The pair had long ago bonded over food. When Luna was growing up, Arturo Benavides used to make her morning waffles on weekends. She cannot quite believe she will never make the man she called “Nino” a pineapple upside-down cake ever again.

— Hannah Natanson

Jorge Calvillo García, 61

Jorge Calvillo García was a family man. He went to Walmart on Saturday morning because his granddaughter Emily was outside the store to raise money for her soccer team. Calvillo was going to bring food and water for the collection event.

Calvillo’s life spanned the border. He was from Gómez Palacio in the Mexican state of Durango but had spent years in Ciudad Juarez, according to the Mexican newspaper Vanguardia. Recently, he moved to El Paso, where he was working as an accountant. But he still visited Mexico frequently — most recently for a niece’s wedding in La Laguna, Durango.

“A week ago he was with us, it was the most important day of our lives and he was supporting us at all times. He left a beautiful human being, an excellent dad, uncle, husband and brother. It’s not goodbye here, but see you soon,” wrote his sister Elizabeth Calvillo on Facebook.

When gunfire erupted at the Walmart, Calvillo shielded his granddaughter, said Raul Ortega, his nephew, according to a KFOX-TV report.

A son who was with him at Walmart, Ever Calvillo Quiroga, has had four surgeries and remains in critical condition, according to Vanguardia.

Calvillo had three children: Ever, Jorge and Alberto.

“He always dedicated himself to his family and his work,” said Juan Martín, a cousin.

Martín said Calvillo will cross the border one more time, his ashes taken from El Paso to Juarez.

— Kevin Sieff and Gabriela Martinez

Leo Campos, 41, and Maribel Hernandez, 56

Maribel Hernandez, an El Paso native, had a happy childhood, relatives said. Her marriage to Leo Campos 16 years ago only made her happier.

The couple led a simple life, said her younger brother Albert Hernandez. Campos worked in a call center during the day while Hernandez took care of the house.

For several years, Campos attended classes at a local school — training to get certified as an elementary school sports coach — and his wife would help him with his essays late into the night, Albert Hernandez said.

On her birthday, or sometimes for no reason at all, Campos would romance her with long letters and large bouquets of flowers. When they could spare the time, they traveled to South Padre Island on the Gulf Coast. Hernandez loved the beach, her brother said.

On Saturday, after dropping their dog off at the groomers, they went to the El Paso Walmart. There, they were slain.

“It’s very surreal,” Albert Hernandez said. “These were good people that suffered.”

Campos had grown up in Hidalgo County in the Rio Grande Valley. Friends and educators who knew him in high school recalled him as a loving family man, gregarious football and soccer player and fantastic Mexican folkloric dancer.

“Leo was well liked and a role model to many athletes that looked up to him, including me,” Jesse Zambrano, board president of the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District, said in a statement.

Campos danced with a troupe that performed in parks, schools and nursing homes. A former teacher, Alicia L. Cron, wrote: “Rest in Peace my Folkloric Dancer while you dance in the heavens. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!”

— Rebecca Tan and Morgan Krakow

Adolfo Cerros Hernández, 68, and Sara Esther Regalado, 66

Sara Esther Regalado and Adolfo Cerros Hernández were a married couple who lived in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The husband was originally from the Mexican city of Aguascalientes, while the wife was a native of Juarez.

“With profound pain in our hearts, we inform you that our beloved parents, Adolfo Cerros Hernández and Sarita Regalado, were victims of the tragic shooting” at the Walmart in El Paso, their daughter, Sandra Ivonne Cerros, wrote on Facebook.

“We are devastated, these have been very difficult hours,” she said, asking for privacy for the family as they grieved.

— Mary Beth Sheridan

Angelina Englisbee, 86

Angelina Englisbee, matriarch of a large family, spent most of her life on a quiet street in El Paso that was less than a 10-minute drive away from the Walmart, neighbors said.

Christina Bustamante, who lived across from the 86-year-old for more than 50 years, said she was a quiet, respectful neighbor. She went to nearby St. Pius Roman Catholic Church every Sunday and led a peaceful life, Bustamante said.

Larry Walters, a former in-law relative, described Englisbee as a strong person. After her husband died of a heart attack, she raised seven children on her own, said Walters.

Englisbee was in Walmart and on the phone with one of her children minutes before the shooting began, according to CNN.

— Rebecca Tan

Raul Flores, 83, and Maria Flores, 77

In the 60 years they were married, Raul Flores and Maria Flores rarely spent a day apart.

They met in the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez as young adults, raised their family around the hills of California’s San Gabriel Valley. Together, in 1959, they weathered the death of their 2-week-old infant, Alejandra, to pneumonia. Together, they retired two decades ago to a large, brightly-lit house in El Paso. Together, they cooked tamales and brought spindly plants back to life. They cradled and nursed three children, 11 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren — and were waiting for one on the way.

The only comfort their relatives take in the couple’s death was that, in the end, Raul Flores and Maria Flores were not separated.

“They didn’t deserve to go this way, but for me, I take comfort in knowing that they went together,” said Raul Flores Jr., the couple’s oldest son.

Flores Sr. was scheduled to have open-heart surgery Monday. Members of the Flores family, who were split between Texas and California, had come to El Paso to be with him. On the day of the shooting, the couple was at Walmart buying airbeds for visiting relatives, said Flores Jr.

“I tell myself, maybe it’s the Lord’s way of doing it,” the 55-year-old said, voice cracking. “Maybe He knew my father wasn’t going to make it during the surgery, and maybe He knew that if anything happened to my father, my mother would be destroyed. Maybe that’s why He decided to take them together.”

Born in the Mexican city of Jiménez, Flores Sr. worked as a painter most of his life. He had a strong work ethic and even in retirement, would occasionally do painting jobs.

Fifteen years ago, on the day before his first open-heart surgery, his children found him out in the sun, planting grass.

“That’s how he was, he was always working, always taking care of family,” Flores Jr. remembered.

Leticia Saldana, 57, said her father worked to make sure he could take care of Maria, “his queen."

Flores Sr. was sweeping floors at a tailor shop in 1950s Ciudad Juarez when he first saw Maria walk by, Saldana said. The soft-spoken young man would bring his broom near to Maria to catch her attention until one day, she was “swept off her feet,” Saldana said, laughing in between tears.

After they got married, Flores Sr. pampered Maria. He bought her shoes, clothes and bags that filled three closets, leaving just a little corner for his own items. And in return, Maria — Grandma Flores, as she was known — doted on the rest of the family.

Born in Tlahualilo, Maria loved to cook and had a knack for knowing exactly what everybody in her family loved to eat. Grandchildren who called ahead to say they were visiting would often arrive to find plates of their favorite dishes waiting for them while Maria prepared dessert in the kitchen, dancing as she baked to Elvis Presley or Marco Antonio Solis.

“They were so much alike, my parents,” Saldana said. “They were inseparable.”

“My whole life, that was my goal, to have a marriage, a love like that.”

— Rebecca Tan

Alexander Gerhard Hoffmann, 66

Alexander Gerhard Hoffmann was identified by El Paso authorities as a German national. Germany’s consulate in Washington confirmed his citizenship but gave no further details, and little other information about him was immediately available.

— Rebecca Tan

David Johnson, 63

David and Kathy Johnson were best friends, their relatives said.

David worked long hours on weekdays to support his family, said his nephew Dominic Patridge. But on weekends, he made sure to carve out time to spend with Kathy.

The couple, with their 9-year-old granddaughter, were in the checkout line at Walmart in El Paso when shooting began Saturday. Johnson told his wife and granddaughter to get on the floor, according to relatives. When he was shot, the Army veteran fell toward them to give them cover, said Patridge, 35.

Kathy Johnson and the child were able to escape, but on Sunday afternoon, the family was notified David Johnson had died.

“He was a completely selfless, dedicated family man,” Patridge said. “He put everybody before himself.”

The Johnsons were “a perfect match,” the nephew said.

“He always made her feel like she was the most important person in the world,” he said. “You could just tell from the way he looked at her, he was completely in love."

In the little free time he had, Johnson liked to watch golf tournaments and NASCAR races.

Johnson told relatives in recent months he looked forward to retirement, to finally having more time to spend with his wife.

— Rebecca Tan

Luis Juarez, 90

At 90 years old, Luis Juarez had lived the American Dream.

He immigrated to the United States, got his citizenship, bought a home and made a career as an iron worker, according to a family statement. He and his wife of 70 years, Martha, raised a family that included seven children, 20 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren and eight great-great-grandchildren.

Before retiring, Juarez had helped erect many buildings in El Paso and Los Angeles, his family said. He also worked on the country’s railroads and locomotives.

“We are celebrating the life of an American who served to build our country,” the family said in a statement.

Luis Juarez and Martha Juarez, who lived in El Paso, were at Walmart on Saturday. Martha Juarez, 87, was recovering Tuesday afternoon from injuries.

Luis Juarez’s family remembered him as generous, understanding, hard-working and curious. He was one of the “kindest, sweetest, loving men” his family had ever known, according to the statement. He never stopped building — even continuing many welding projects after he retired — and the family said they expected him to live to 100.

“We were looking forward to many more years and that was stolen away from us,” the family said.

— Laurel Demkovich

Maria Eugenia Legarreta, 58

Maria Eugenia Legarreta came from a well-known business family in the northern Mexican city of Chihuahua. But she was a full-time homemaker focused on her four children.

“She never stopped smiling. She was a wonderful woman, very dedicated to her children, and a wonderful cook,” said a family friend, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of concern about the family’s privacy.

Legarreta was going to the El Paso airport Saturday to pick up her youngest child, a 16-year-old girl, who was returning from a trip to Europe.

The mother decided to stop by Walmart on the way to do some quick shopping, according to the friend and news reports.

Legarreta will be remembered for being an outstanding parent, said the friend. “Above all, she was a great mother.”

— Gabriela Martinez and Mary Beth Sheridan

Ivan Filiberto Manzano, 41

Ivan Filiberto Manzano, a native of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, was known for his enthusiasm for his business projects, and devotion to his wife and two children, aged 5 and 9.

Manzano had worked in sales and marketing for years. One day, he approached a colleague at Megaradio, a broadcasting firm in Juarez, about forming their own business.

“We decided to become entrepreneurs and not employees, and we founded Grupo IVER,” a marketing firm, said the colleague, Vianney Rico. They pulled together the idea for the business in an afternoon, “at one desk with two chairs,” she said. Manzano also had a business selling medical equipment.

Manzano had held jobs in Argentina and in Monterrey, Mexico, but eventually returned to his hometown. He was known for hard work.

“It didn’t matter what the hour was, he was always in his office or in the field, taking care of his projects,” said his former colleague at Megaradio, Salvador Jonapa.

But Manzano also was an “exemplary father” to his son and daughter, Jonapa said.

When he wasn’t working or with his family, Manzano enjoyed running, and took part in several marathons in the city, his former colleagues said.

— Mary Beth Sheridan

Gloria Irma Márquez, 61

Gloria Irma Márquez was born in the Mexican state of Sinaloa and moved to the United States more than two decades ago. Her first two children were born in Mexico, her second two in the United States.

“The kids were everything to her,” said John Ogaz, her companion of 11 years. “She was very protective of the people she loved.”

When Ogaz met Márquez, he was living in a trailer. Márquez, who earned a modest income as a health care assistant for elderly patients, helped him move into a home. He was a U.S. citizen born in El Paso, but Márquez, a recent immigrant, helped him carve out a comfortable life in America. They considered each other husband and wife, he said, even though they never formally married.

They lived together in El Paso, surrounded by children and grandchildren.

“She was such a generous person,” he said. “The patients always asked for her. They always wanted Gloria.”

On Saturday, Ogaz and Márquez went to Walmart together. They split up minutes before the shooter entered the building, with her heading to the ATM and him waiting for her at McDonald’s. For five hours, he called her phone from the parking lot.

Through the years Márquez’s family remained close, even though immigration laws often kept them physically apart. One of her daughters was unable to cross into the United States to visit her mother. She was recently granted a visa to attend Marquez’s funeral, Ogaz said.

— Kevin Sieff and Gabriela Martinez

Elsa Mendoza, 57

Elsa Mendoza was a teacher and school principal who lived and worked in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. She was in El Paso on Saturday visiting family, according to local press reports. She had stopped by Walmart to pick up a few things from the supermarket section, leaving her husband and son in the car, according to the Mexican newspaper Milenio.

She never emerged from the store.

Mendoza was originally from the town of Yepomera, in the northern state of Chihuahua. Her expertise was in special education, but she was principal of a school — the Club de Leones y Rafael Veloz elementary school — with a range of students. She was known for her optimism.

“She always, always had a smile,” said Rosa María Hernández Madero, a colleague who heads the local branch of the national teacher’s union. Mendoza “used to say, ‘Things done with love are done better,’ and she was always ready to help."

The slain teacher’s husband, Antonio de la Mora, a professor at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juarez, bade farewell to his wife in an emotional message on social media.

“I say goodbye to my companion, the most wonderful woman, a person full of light who will continue to illuminate our path,” he wrote.

Mexico’s education minister, Esteban Moctezuma, said in a tweet that “the Mexican education community is in mourning the irreparable loss of teacher Elsa Mendoza.”

— Mary Beth Sheridan and Gabriela Martinez

Margie Reckard, 63

Margie Reckard was mourned as a devoted companion and mother.

“I’ve been lost. I’m like a puppy run away from its momma. She took care of me,” Tony Basco, her partner of 22 years, told Reuters as he planted a cross for her in a shrine that emerged at the El Paso Walmart. Basco said Reckard was a sweet, loving woman.

A son, Dean Reckard, said on Facebook he was raising money to come to El Paso to lay his mother to rest.

San Antonio In-Home Health Care said in a statement on Facebook that Reckard was “one of our own.” The health-care provider added: “She will always be loved and missed.”

— Laurel Demkovich

Javier Amir Rodriguez, 15

Javier Amir Rodriguez was among the youngest killed in El Paso, his uncle Cesar Serrano told The Washington Post.

The Clint Independent School District confirmed his death in a tweet Monday. “We are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of one of our students,” the district said. “Our heartfelt condolences and prayers are with his parents and family.”

Javier was just weeks away from starting his sophomore year of high school. “He was such a loving boy,” Elvira Rodriguez, his aunt, told the Arizona Republic.

Soccer was a major part of Javier’s routine at Horizon High School, said his former coach Juan Ferreira. He used to come to school early to play with friends, skip lunch to practice with the varsity girls team, and then head off to his own junior varsity training in the afternoon.

“This boy was like as an energy bunny,” Ferreira said. "And for him, it was nothing but soccer.”

— Hailey Fuchs and Rebecca Tan

Teresa Sanchez, 82

Teresa Sanchez was a U.S. citizen, contrary to initial data from authorities. No further information about her was immediately available.

Juan de Dios Velázquez, 77

Juan de Dios Velázquez, a Mexican retiree, was fatally wounded while protecting his wife, Estela, from the shooter in the Walmart massacre, according to relatives.

The couple had moved from Ciudad Juarez to El Paso six months ago, after they received U.S. citizenship, family members told Mexican media. Velázquez was a native of the town of Sombrerete, in the Mexican state of Zacatecas.

On Saturday, the couple were grocery shopping when the gunman opened fire. Velázquez’s first thought was for his wife, relatives said.

“I’ve been told that, when he realized that the man was going to attack them, my uncle moved in front of her, to protect her,” Velázquez’s niece Norma Ramos told the daily La Jornada.

Velázquez was shot in the back and taken to a hospital, where he underwent three operations, Ramos said. He died Monday. His 65-year-old wife was shot in the stomach but survived.

The couple has four children and several grandchildren.

— Mary Beth Sheridan

Credits: Washington Post Staff

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