Texas woman shot by officer had picked up gun after hearing noises, warrant says

FILE PHOTO: Fort Worth Police Department officer Aaron York Dean is seen in a booking photo at the Tarrant County Jail in Fort Worth, Texas, U.S. October 14, 2019. Tarrant County Jail/Handout via REUTERS.

(Reuters) – A Texas woman was shot dead by a Fort Worth police officer through the window of her home after she heard noises outside late at night and picked up her handgun, the officer’s arrest warrant showed on Tuesday.

Atatiana Jefferson, 28, was playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew around 2:30 am on Saturday when she heard noises in her backyard, according to the warrant for former Fort Worth Police Officer Dean Aaron’s arrest for alleged murder.

The noises were Dean and his partner creeping around the back of her home after they were called to investigate why her front door was open.

Dean resigned on Monday before he was fired for breaching a string of police policies in shooting Jefferson dead with a single shot, according to Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus.

Jefferson’s death brought outraged calls for an investigation into Fort Worth Police, whose officers are accused by her family’s lawyer, Lee Merritt, of fatally shooting seven people in under six months.

“She heard noises coming from outside, and she took her handgun from her purse,” Jefferson’s nephew told police, according to the warrant. His name was redacted from the warrant.

“Jefferson raised her handgun, pointed it toward the window, then Jefferson was shot and fell to the ground,” the warrant said.

Dean’s partner, identified as Officer Darch, said she could see Jefferson when Dean shot her.

“She could only see Jefferson’s face through the window when Officer Dean discharged his weapon,” the warrant said.

The officers did not knock on the front door of the home or announce they were police before Dean fired his weapon, according to Kraus.

“It makes sense she would have a gun if she felt threatened or if there was someone in the backyard,” Kraus said, ending a press conference after eight minutes as he grew emotional talking about the impact of the killing on police morale.

Fort Worth has called in an independent panel of experts to evaluate the police department after the shooting.

Jefferson was killed the same month another former Texas police officer, Amber Guyger, was convicted of murdering Botham Jean, a black man, as he sat in his home eating ice cream.

Jefferson’s family has called for the swift prosecution of Dean, who was arrested on Monday and posted bond overnight.

“#AtatianaJefferson deserved to live in a world where she was safe from brutality playing video games in her home with her nephew,” Merritt tweeted.

(Reporting by Andrew Hay; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

‘How can this be?’ Victim’s father testifies in Dallas wrong-apartment murder trial

By Brad Brooks

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – Texas prosecutors on Wednesday said a jury should sentence former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger to at least 28 years in prison for mistakenly entering a black neighbor’s apartment and shooting him to death as he ate ice cream.

The jury could sentence Guyger, 31, to life in prison or as little as five years behind bars for murdering 26-year-old Botham Jean on Sept. 6, 2018.

Jean’s father cried as he told the jury of his intense pain following the murder of his son, who he said brought joy to those around him.

“How could we lose Botham – such a sweet boy? He tried his best to live a good honest life. He loved God. He loved everyone,” Bertrum Jean said as he wept. “How can this be possible? I’ll never see him again. I want to see him!”

Jean’s slaying by a white police officer had provoked street protests, particularly after prosecutors initially opted to charge Guyger with manslaughter rather than murder.

Lawyers for the victim’s family said they believed the verdict was the first time a white female police officer had been found guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of an unarmed black man.

“This is a historic case and history provides us with a teachable moment,” said civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who also represented the family of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager shot and killed in 2012 by a civilian neighborhood watchman who was later cleared in court.

This case was unlike other recent high-profile killings, such as those of Michael Brown in Missouri and Philando Castile in Minnesota, since Guyger was not on duty or responding to a reported crime when she fired.

State prosecutors hammered at racist and violent text messages and social media posts that Guyger made in the months leading up to Jean’s killing.

One text Guyger wrote in January 2018 stated how she would like to use pepper spray on the crowd at a Martin Luther King Jr. parade in Dallas. In another she wrote that her black police colleagues “just have a different way of working and it shows.”

Prosecutor LaQuita Long told the jury that this past weekend marked the second birthday Jean’s family had mourned him since his death.

“I’m going to encourage you that the number you return with should be no lower than 28 years,” Long said. “That is what Botham would have celebrated on Sunday.”

Lawyers for Guyger called her mother, sister, a few fellow police officers and several acquaintances to the stand. They all said the former police officer had a caring personality.

LaWanda Clark, a longtime drug addict, told jurors how Guyger had ticketed her during a bust at a drug den a few years ago, but told the woman that she could “continue on the road that you’re on – or this can be your ticket out.”

Clark said she went through a rehab program, is now sober and employed, and credits Guyger with turning her life around.

“She let me know that I mattered,” Clark said. “That she didn’t just see me as an addict.”

Defense lawyer Toby Shook asked the jury to consider the unusual circumstances of this case, noting that Guyger “was not on duty. She just wanted to go home.”

(Reporting by Brad Brooks; Editing by Scott Malone, Bernadette Baum and David Gregorio)

Jury finds Dallas police officer guilty in shooting death of her neighbor

FILE PHOTO: Amber Guyger, who is charged in the killing of Botham Jean in his own home, arrives on the first day of the trial in Dallas, Texas, U.S., September 23, 2019. REUTERS/Jeremy Lock/File Photo

By Bruce Tomaso

DALLAS (Reuters) – A Dallas jury found former police officer Amber Guyger guilty on Tuesday of murder when she accidentally walked into a neighbor’s apartment thinking it was her own and shot him dead as he ate ice cream.

The Sept. 6, 2018, killing of Botham Jean, a 26-year-old black PwC accountant, by a white officer sparked street protests, particularly when prosecutors initially opted to bring the lesser charge of manslaughter against Guyger, 31.

“We the jury unanimously find the defendant Amber Guyger guilty of murder as charged in the indictment,” Judge Tammy Kemp read aloud to the courtroom from the jurors’ statement. A sob, which sounded like it came from Guyger’s bench, cut the judge off and Kemp paused to address the courtroom: “No outbursts.”

Guyger, who spent four years on the force before the killing, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison for the slaying. She took the rare step of testifying in her own defense during her trial, tearfully expressing regret for shooting Jean but saying she had believed her life was in danger when she pulled the trigger.

“I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. I have to live with this every single day,” Guyger told the jury of eight women and four men.

In cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney Jason Hermus asked her, “When you shot him twice, you intended to kill him, didn’t you?”

“I did,” Guyger responded, in a calm voice.

Prosecutors also argued that Guyger did little to help Jean even after realizing her mistake, calling the 911 emergency phone number for an ambulance but not administering first aid.

Hermus also told the jury that Guyger missed blatant clues that she was not in her own apartment – including the smell of marijuana smoke – because she was distracted after a 16-minute phone conversation on her commute with her former police partner. Guyger testified that the call was in relation to work.

The shooting stood in contrast to cases like the killings of Michael Brown in Missouri and Philando Castile in Minnesota. Guyger shot Jean while she was off duty, rather than while responding to a reported crime.

In her testimony, Guyger told jurors that the shooting “is not about hate; it’s about being scared.”

Neither prosecutors nor the defense focused on race during the trial.

(Reporting by Bruce Tomaso in Dallas, additional reporting by Brad Brooks in Austin; Editing by Scott Malone, Cynthia Osterman and Jonathan Oatis)

Torrential Imelda rains kill 2, flood homes, snarl travel around Houston

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Tropical Storm Imelda dumped torrential rains over the Houston-area, killing at least two people, while rescuers in boats pulled hundreds from flooded cars, the airport temporarily halted flights and tens of thousands of people lost power.

Heavy rains had abated by Thursday evening, although flash flood watches remained in effect through Friday morning and rescuers were still working to reach stranded motorists and those trapped in homes late into the night as floodwaters were slow to drain off.

The National Hurricane Center said in a late Thursday bulletin that up to 45 inches of rain will have fallen in some areas by the time the storm blows off on Friday afternoon.

Ed Gonzalez, sheriff for Harris County, which includes Houston, confirmed the second death from the storm.

He tweeted on Thursday that he was at the scene where first-responders tried to save a man who had driven his white van headlong into deep waters.

“The water level was about 8′ (8 feet) high,” Gonzalez wrote, describing the incident. “The driver paused briefly, then accelerated into it the water, causing his van to go under.”

Gonzalez said the man driving the van was pulled from the vehicle after some 20 minutes underwater and was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

The other victim of the storm was electrocuted southeast of Houston while trying to move his horse to safety, according to a statement on the Facebook page of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. No other details were provided.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport halted all flights for about two hours, and Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster covering more than a dozen counties.

Hundreds of motorists were stranded in their vehicles as some of Houston’s main roadways flooded, submerging cars. Firefighters, police and ordinary citizens were out in boats and all-terrain vehicles to pick up people trapped in their homes by the rising waters.

The storm knocked out power to around 100,000 people in Houston and southeast Texas, according to reports from energy companies, while work at oil refineries in the area was slowed or halted.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city was better prepared to rescue stranded residents and deal with flooding than when Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017, leading to dozens of deaths in Houston and billions of dollars in damage.

The small town of Winnie, about 60 miles (100 km) east of Houston, was also badly hit. Officials there evacuated Riceland Hospital and tried to rescue people marooned in their vehicles after roads turned into lakes.

Parts of Interstate 10, a major east-west highway, were closed near Winnie.

Imelda made landfall as a tropical storm near Freeport, Texas, on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Gary McWilliams in Houston, Jonathan Allen in New York, Brad Brooks in Austin, Texas, and Liz Hampton in Denver; Editing by Scott Malone, David Gregorio and Tom Hogue)

Torrential Imelda rains kill 2, flood homes, snarl travel around Houston

A car passes through a flooded street as storm Imelda hits Houston, Texas, U.S., September 19, 2019 in this screen grab obtained from social media video. @kingjames.daniel/via REUTERS

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Tropical Storm Imelda dumped torrential rains over the Houston-area, killing at least two people, while rescuers in boats pulled hundreds from flooded cars, the airport temporarily halted flights and tens of thousands of people lost power.

Heavy rains had abated by Thursday evening, although flash flood watches remained in effect through Friday morning and rescuers were still working to reach stranded motorists and those trapped in homes late into the night as floodwaters were slow to drain off.

The National Hurricane Center said in a late Thursday bulletin that up to 45 inches of rain will have fallen in some areas by the time the storm blows off on Friday afternoon.

Ed Gonzalez, sheriff for Harris County, which includes Houston, confirmed the second death from the storm.

He tweeted on Thursday that he was at the scene where first-responders tried to save a man who had driven his white van headlong into deep waters.

“The water level was about 8′ (8 feet) high,” Gonzalez wrote, describing the incident. “The driver paused briefly, then accelerated into it the water, causing his van to go under.”

Gonzalez said the man driving the van was pulled from the vehicle after some 20 minutes underwater and was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

The other victim of the storm was electrocuted southeast of Houston while trying to move his horse to safety, according to a statement on the Facebook page of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. No other details were provided.

George Bush Intercontinental Airport halted all flights for about two hours, and Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster covering more than a dozen counties.

Hundreds of motorists were stranded in their vehicles as some of Houston’s main roadways flooded, submerging cars. Firefighters, police and ordinary citizens were out in boats and all-terrain vehicles to pick up people trapped in their homes by the rising waters.

The storm knocked out power to around 100,000 people in Houston and southeast Texas, according to reports from energy companies, while work at oil refineries in the area was slowed or halted.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the city was better prepared to rescue stranded residents and deal with flooding than when Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017, leading to dozens of deaths in Houston and billions of dollars in damage.

The small town of Winnie, about 60 miles (100 km) east of Houston, was also badly hit. Officials there evacuated Riceland Hospital and tried to rescue people marooned in their vehicles after roads turned into lakes.

Parts of Interstate 10, a major east-west highway, were closed near Winnie.

Imelda made landfall as a tropical storm near Freeport, Texas, on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Gary McWilliams in Houston, Jonathan Allen in New York, Brad Brooks in Austin, Texas, and Liz Hampton in Denver; Editing by Scott Malone, David Gregorio and Tom Hogue)

Greenpeace members face felony charges in Houston bridge protest

FILE PHOTO: Greenpeace USA climbers form a blockade on the Fred Hartman Bridge, shutting down the Houston Ship Channel, the largest fossil fuel thoroughfare in the United States, ahead of the third Democratic primary debate in nearby Houston, near Baytown, Texas, U.S. September 12, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

By Erwin Seba

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Texas authorities on Friday charged climate change protesters who shut down the largest U.S. energy-export port for a day by dangling on ropes from a bridge in Houston.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office charged 31 people, including Greenpeace protesters and others who supported them, under a state law that makes it a felony to disrupt energy pipelines and ports. The group shut a portion of the Houston Ship Channel all of Thursday.

Those charged include six people not in custody, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office said. All face up to two years in prison if convicted under the Texas “critical infrastructure” law that took effect last month.

All 31 also face charges for trespassing and obstructing a roadway, the spokesman said.

“This is a bullying tactic that serves the interests of corporations at the expense of people exercising their right to free speech,” said Tom Wetterer, Greenpeace’s general counsel.

Texas this year was one of seven states nationwide that passed laws seeking to curb protests that broke out across the nation over energy projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline and Bayou Bridge pipeline.

“Critical infrastructure laws like Texas’ were created by oil and gas lobbyists and secretive groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council to restrict First Amendment rights and to try to bring to bear extraordinary consequences for legitimate protests,” said Wetterer.

Greenpeace could face a $500,000 fine under the Texas law for supporting the protests, said Jennifer Hensley, director of state lobbying and advocacy for environmental group Sierra Club, which is fighting some of the laws.

The Houston Ship Channel on Friday reopened for vessel traffic, the U.S. Coast Guard said, after the last of 11 protesters who had disrupted traffic by hanging from ropes above the key energy-export waterway was removed by police earlier in the morning.

A large portion of the channel was closed when protesters attached themselves and banners to the bridge over the waterway to bring attention to climate change during Thursday’s debate of Democratic presidential hopefuls in Houston.

Police early on Friday arrested 23 Greenpeace members involved in the protest, with the last removed at about 1 a.m. by Harris County Sheriff’s officers, said Travis Nichols, a Greenpeace spokesman. The 23 were taken to the Harris County jail in Houston.

The protests had halted movement on a large portion of the Houston Ship Channel, which stretches 53 miles (85 km) from its entrance in the Gulf of Mexico to the Port of Houston. The area affected is home to five major oil refineries as well as chemical and oil-export terminals.

Day-long shutdowns caused by fog are typically cleared within a day, a Coast Guard official said on Thursday.

(Reporting by Erwin Seba in Houston; Writing by Gary McWilliams; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Sandra Maler)

Dozens of CEOs call on Senate to tackle gun violence: reports

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – More than 100 chief executives of some of the nation’s most well-known companies on Thursday called on the U.S. Senate to take action to tackle gun violence, including expanding background checks and strengthening so-called red flag laws, according to media reports.

In a letter to lawmakers, 145 company heads urged meaningful action following a string of mass shootings across the United States that have most recently left communities reeling in Texas, Ohio, Nevada and South Carolina.

“Doing nothing about America’s gun violence crisis is simply unacceptable and it is time to stand with the American public on gun safety,” the letter to the Republican-led U.S. Senate said, according to the New York Times, which first reported the correspondence.

Those signing the missive include the heads of Gap Inc, Levi Strauss & Co, and Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. They also included Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, Uber Technologies Inc, Twitter Inc, and Amalgamated Bank, among others.

“We are writing to you because we have a responsibility and obligation to stand up for the safety of our employees, customers and all Americans in the communities we serve across the country,” they said, according to the Times. The Washington Post also reported the letter.

Lawmakers have struggled to address gun violence after the 2012 killing of 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut stoked the debate over gun control in America.

More mass shootings followed, including at a church in South Carolina, a music festival in Las Vegas and a high school in Florida. This summer, shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas – including in a Walmart – sparked fresh debate.

Walmart Inc and other stores have since called on patrons not to openly carry firearms in their stores, prompting protests from opponents who object to curbing gun rights.

The U.S. House of Representatives, led by Democrats, quickly took up measures addressing gun violence as lawmakers returned to Washington this week. These include three bills that seek to remove guns from people deemed a risk, ban high-capacity ammunition magazines and prohibit people convicted of violent hate crime misdemeanors from possessing firearms.

The Senate, led by President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans, has so far stayed on the sidelines, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell looking to the White House for guidance.

On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators said they wanted to revive a failed 2013 bill to close loopholes in the law requiring gun sale background checks, but it remained unclear whether Trump would support it.

Polls have shown that nearly half of all Americans expect another mass shooting to happen soon in the United States.

(Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

Walmart to stop selling ammunition for handguns, assault-style weapons

FILE PHOTO: Walmart's logo is seen outside one of the stores in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

(Reuters) – Walmart Inc said on Tuesday it would discontinue sales of ammunition for handguns and some assault-style rifles in stores across the United States, in response to the recent mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

The largest U.S. arms retailer, which has been under pressure to change its policies on gun sales, also said it would discontinue handgun sales in Alaska, the only state where it still sells these guns.

Walmart has already ended sales of assault rifle and raised the minimum age for gun purchases to 21. The latest move will leave it focused on weapons for hunting, including deer rifles, shotguns and related ammunition.

The company will stop selling all handgun ammunition and some short-barrel rifle ammunition, such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber after clearing current stock. While short-barrel ammunition is commonly used in some hunting rifles for small animals such as prairie dogs, they can also be used in military-style weapons with high-capacity magazines.

The retailer said it took the action following the death of 22 people in a mass shooting in a Walmart store in Texas as well as deadly shootings in Ohio and Saturday’s incident in Midland and Odessa, Texas.

Just last month, the company said it would not change its policy on selling firearms even as it took down signs and playable demos of violent video games.

“As a company, we experienced two horrific events in one week, and we will never be the same,” Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said in a letter to Walmart’s associates.

The company added that its latest actions would reduce its market share of ammunition from around 20% to a range of about 6% to 9%, and would trend toward the lower end of that range over time.

McMillon said he would send letters to the White House and the Congressional leadership, urging the government to strengthen background checks and to remove weapons from those who could pose an imminent danger.

“These horrific events occur and then the spotlight fades … Given our decades of experience selling firearms, we are also offering to serve as a resource in the national debate on responsible gun sales,” he said.

(Reporting by Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

Five killed, including gunman, 21 injured in West Texas rampage

People are evacuated from Cinergy Odessa cinema following a shooting in Odessa, Texas, U.S. in this still image taken from a social media video August 31, 2019. Rick Lobo via REUTERS

By Andrew Hay

(Reuters) – A white male in his 30s who was known to police killed four people and wounded 21 others on Saturday in a gun rampage between the West Texas cities of Midland and Odessa that started with a traffic stop and ended when he was killed by officers, authorities said.

The suspect hijacked a postal van and opened fire on police officers, motorists and shoppers on a busy Labor Day holiday weekend before being shot dead outside a multiplex cinema complex in Odessa, police said.

Authorities originally thought there were two shooters driving two vehicles, but Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke told a news conference on Saturday evening that he believed there was only one.

The gunman was heading from Midland to Odessa on Interstate 20 when he was stopped at 3:17 p.m. local time, Gerke said. He shot the police officer, took off west on I-20 and then exited at Odessa. There he drove to a Home Depot and opened fire on passersby.

“At some point, the suspect stole a mail truck and ditched his car,” Gerke said. He drove the mail truck back east, pursued by police, before crashing into a stationary vehicle behind the Odessa Cinergy multiplex complex, where he engaged in a gun battle with police and was shot dead, Gerke said.

Video shown by a local CBS affiliate showed the white postal van crashing into a vehicle at high speed outside the movie theater complex before the man believed to be the shooter was swarmed by police. Screaming theater goers ran from the complex.

Gerke said the suspect was known to him but declined to comment on a motive for the shootings.

The Medical Center Hospital in Odessa took in 13 victims, including one who died, the hospital’s director, Russell Tippin, told reporters. Seven were in critical condition, two serious, and two were treated and released. One “pediatric patient” under the age of 2 was transferred to another facility, he said.

“Grab onto your loved ones, pray for this town, stop and give your prayers for the victims,” Tippin said.

People are evacuated from Cinergy Odessa cinema following a shooting in Odessa, Texas, U.S. in this still image taken from a social media video August 31, 2019. Rick Lobo via REUTERS

People are evacuated from Cinergy Odessa cinema following a shooting in Odessa, Texas, U.S. in this still image taken from a social media video August 31, 2019. Rick Lobo via REUTERS

Midland Mayor Jerry Morales said hundreds of people were enjoying the holiday weekend inside the Cinergy complex when the gunman was confronted by officers who boxed in his vehicle in the parking lot before shots were exchanged.

He said the suspect used a rifle to shoot the Texas Department of Public Safety officer who had stopped his vehicle but did not know any more details about the weapon.

Morales said three police officers – one from Midland, one from Odessa and the Department of Public Safety officer – were wounded by gunfire. At one point, Midland police barricaded the highway to stop the suspect leaving Odessa, about 20 miles (32 km) away in the Permian oil boom area of West Texas.

“It was very chaotic,” Morales said by telephone. “There were rumors flying that the shooter was at shopping malls, the movie theater.”

Retail stores, a shopping mall and the University of Texas Permian Basin were locked down as rumors spread of the shootings and sightings, he said.

The Texas Department of Public Safety said that as two state troopers made the initial traffic stop on I-20, the suspect pointed a rifle toward the rear window of his car and fired several shots toward their patrol vehicle, hitting of them.

The wounded trooper is in serious but stable condition, and two other wounded police officers are in stable condition at a local hospital, the department said in a statement.

At one point armed police ran through the Music City Mall in Odessa, forcing anchors for television station CBS 7, located inside, to duck off-screen as the building went into lockdown.

Saturday’s shooting came after 22 people were killed at a Walmart store about 255 miles west of Midland in the city of El Paso, Texas on Aug. 3.

(Reporting by Andrew Hay in New Mexico; Additional reporting by Gary McWilliams in Houston and Keith Coffman in Denver; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Dan Grebler)

‘Hate will not overcome love’, El Paso shooting memorial attendees told

People embrace during a memorial for the victims of a shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 14, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

By Julio-César and Chávez

EL PASO, Texas (Reuters) – With “El Paso Strong” shirts on and with the sun setting behind them, thousands of people crowded into a baseball stadium in the town on Wednesday evening to remember the 22 people killed by a gunman at a local Walmart store on Aug. 3.

“Words cannot express the heartbreak and loss our community has encountered,” El Paso Mayor Dee Margo told the crowd gathered in the U.S.-Mexico border town during the memorial.

“Yet tonight all of the Paso del Norte region stands together to honor those taken from us,” he said. “To grieve, comfort, and love one another as a united binational people.”

People take part in a memorial for the victims of a shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 14, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

People take part in a memorial for the victims of a shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 14, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

The attack on the largely Hispanic community was the first of two recent mass shootings that have rocked the nation and entered the political debate.

El Paso was followed 13 hours later by a mass shooting in a busy nightspot in Dayton, Ohio, that left nine dead.

The memorial came 11 days after an attacker, who police say drove hours to El Paso from a Dallas suburb, killed 22 people and injured dozens more. The attacker said he was specifically targeting Mexicans, according to police. El Paso is a largely Hispanic city.

As El Pasoans entered the baseball stadium Wednesday they were greeted by emotional support dogs, brought by a group that has been visiting disaster areas since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

“Some people said they hadn’t smiled since that Saturday, some people hadn’t cried yet until they touched the dogs, but that warm fur just starts that emotion,” said Janice Marut, of Lutheran Church Charities, while memorial visitors played with large golden retrievers.

The baseball infield was dotted with 22 stars made out of luminarias, paper bags with candles or lights inside, to remember those killed in the El Paso attack along with nine circles commemorating the dead in an Ohio shooting that happened just hours later.

People take part in a memorial for the victims of a shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 14, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

People take part in a memorial for the victims of a shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, U.S. August 14, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

The memorial was streamed live on the internet to different places around the city, including a park one block north of where the shooting happened.

The largely Democrat-voting city cheered on Republican Governor Greg Abbott as he said elected officials would meet to discuss hate crimes, gun violence, and domestic terrorism next week.

On the stage along with the governor and El Paso’s mayor were Mexican government representatives, taking part to remember the eight Mexican nationals who died in the same attack.

The governor of Chihuahua, the neighboring state, and the mayor of Ciudad Juarez just across the border, condemned the resurgence of white supremacy in the United States.

“We don’t just share business or industries, or shopping at Walmart. We share culture,” said Chihuahua governor Javier Corral.

Margo, who spoke last, reiterated the ties in the binational cities and cultures saying the attack would not change El Paso.

“Hate will not overcome love, hate will not define who we are,” he said.

(Reporting by Julio-César Chávez in El Paso, Texas; editing by Rich McKay and Hugh Lawson)