El Paso and Dayton Filipinos react to recent deadly mass shootings in their communities

29 lives lost, and 52 people injured — the nation is collectively shaken once again, this time from two mass shootings just within 24 hours.

In El Paso, Texas, last Saturday morning, a lone gunman walked towards a Walmart near Cielo Vista mall with an AK-style semiautomatic rifle. He shot and killed 20 people, and injured 26 more. Many of those in the busy store were buying back-to-school supplies when they were caught up in the rampage.

Filipina Jezreel Hernandez and her family who own a food truck business, have lived in El Paso since 1993.

“My husband and I were actually getting ready to go to out actually, we were considering going to Ciela Vista mall to get something to eat, and go shopping and we got word from a friend of mine actually. She works at the hospital and she sent all of us a mass text message warning us not to go to Ciela Vista because of the shooting that had occurred.”

Romina Sapinoso is among the more than 2000 Filipinos who live in El Paso.

“I’m just really saddened by this because El Paso is such a friendly, welcoming, hospitable city.”

Police said that the 21-year-old suspect, Patrick Crusius, from Allen, Texas was arrested without incident. Officials said they are treating this as domestic terrorism because they believe Crusius was targeting Hispanics.

“I can tell you from the outset the charge, the state charge, is capital murder. And so he is eligible for the death penalty. We will seek the death penalty.”

Barely 13 hours later in Dayton, Ohio, at around 1am Sunday, the usually busy and fun downtown neighborhood lined with bars and restaurants turned to violence.

Police said 24-year-old Connor Stephen Betts from Bellbrook, Ohio, armed with a semiautomatic rifle, opened fire killing 9 people including his own sister, and injuring 27 others.

“Threat was neutralized after approximately 30 seconds of the suspect firing his first shot,” said Dayton police chief Richard Biehl.

Officials said Betts was killed by police and they have not established a motive for the shooting or why his sister was also fatally shot.

Dayton is home to about 500 Filipino families. Marvin Mamitag is the president of the Philippine American society of greater Dayton, says the issue is concerning.

Elsie Milby, the actor Sam Milby’s mother, lives just outside Dayton.

“You just worry about your family and friends and make sure that they are okay.”

These two shootings came just seven days after a teenager killed three people with an assault rifle at a food festival in Gilroy, California, before taking his own life.

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