FORT IRWIN, Calif. — As news came in of the El Paso, Texas shooting spree that killed 22 and injured 24 people, the Fort Irwin community started reaching out to family and friends they knew in that area. Many residents at the National Training Center have passed through El Paso as a duty station at Fort Bliss. The shooting was at a Walmart that was only 10 minutes from that post, so the tragedy hit home for many at NTC.
One of the first social media posts at Fort Irwin, came immediately after the news broke, from Que Coleman on the “Fort Irwin Connection” Facebook page.
“Make sure you check on your loved ones and friends in El Paso, Texas, and also the soldiers stationed at Fort Bliss,” he said. “I would always go to that Walmart when I was stationed there. It was completely harmless.”
Coleman mentioned he always went to that particular Walmart when he was stationed there. Brandy McKinzie also used to live in that area but is now in Fort Iwin.
“This is heartbreaking,” McKinzie said. “Just praying that it’s over, and the city can begin to heal.”
Alyssa Maxwell chimed with her concern, as well. “My stomach is torn up,” she said.
Julie Blaha was in El Paso visiting from Fort Irwin when the shooting happened.
“It was pretty somber after it happened,” she said. “It took a while to find out who was hurt so, people were just anxious.”
Blaha wanted to support in any way she could, so she called to see if she could offer any counseling services.
“I think it was great to see how quickly everyone rushed to help,” Blaha said. “The blood banks were having to set up appointments for the whole week on the first day. I called about helping with counseling services and they already had enough counselors to do a stand-by list within two hours.”
According to a Texas Department of Public Safety report, the 21-year-old gunman has confessed to the worst massacre of Hispanic people in recent, American history.
Investigators said the gunman told detectives about his manifesto, confirming he wrote the hate-filled writings that described the attack as a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” Federal authorities are investigating the shooting as an act of domestic terrorism.
Coleman is focusing less on the shooter and more on the victims and their loved ones.
“My prayers to the families and soldiers out there,” he said. “My brothers and family will always be 2/1 1AD, 1-1 CAV.”