In an all-too-familiar case, a white man opened fire at random on Saturday between the cities of Midland and Odessa, Texas, leaving at least seven people dead and more than 20 injured. The gunman was killed in a shootout with police. Amongst the seven he murdered, at least four were Latinx – Raul Garcia of El Paso, 57-year-old Rodolfo Julio Arco, 29-year-old twin Mary Granados and 15-year-old Leilah Hernandez, who had just celebrated her quinceañera in May.
“It was like a dream for her,” her grandma, Nora Leyva, recalled the grandiose event in conversation with the Washington Post.
Hernandez, the youngest victim (aside from the 17-month-old, who suffered awful injuries), died on the scene before arriving at the hospital. She was wrapped in her brother’s arms as he attempted to protect her from the gunfire. Her 18-year-old brother, Nathan, was injured and remains in the Intensive Care Unit with his family, who hasn’t left his side. A heartbroken Leyva shared that Leilah’s mother is finding comfort in the in-between and dreads going home to her daughter’s empty room.
Initially, most news reports failed to identify Leilah due to her age, but people have made sure to put a name and face to her story, while ensuring that her family was taken care of. Leilah’s dad set up a GoFundMe page for medical and family expenses that has raised $23,000 and counting. Messages of encouragement and sympathy attached to donations included many prayers, disbelief, and a message from all via Victor Picena who wrote: “May you find the comfort of God in this tragic and senseless act of violence.”
The Leyva family is still accepting donations.