EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Almost three years after a gunman motivated by racial hate shattered the peace of one of America’s safest cities, city leaders honored the victims and family members of the Aug. 3, 2019, mass shooting at a local Walmart.

“A gunman traveled 10 hours – and I still think about that – someone with so much hatred they would travel 10 hours to take the lives of 23 members of our beautiful community. We have to remember their lives lost and we have to remember the families and continue remembering the families,” Mayor Oscar Leeser said at a memorial prior to Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Local officials and the consul general of Mexico observed a moment of silence before ringing a bell each time the name of a victim was read.

The 2019 event claimed the lives of 23 border residents and left almost two dozen injured. The alleged gunman is awaiting state and federal prosecution on murder and, in the case of the federal charges, hate crimes.

Leeser on Tuesday emphasized the out-of-character nature of the mass shooting in a city like El Paso, which repeatedly comes in as one of the safest cities in the country in annual FBI crime reports and others.

The victims “were innocent people having a beautiful Saturday, people from El Paso and from our neighbor city that were here enjoying El Paso,” the mayor said. “Our sister city in Ciudad Juarez had the same impact, the same loss of some of the members of its community.”

The victims included nine Mexican citizens, an El Paso couple whose baby survived the barrage and a German citizen living in Juarez who, like a lot of members of this binational community, routinely crossed the border from one city to the other.

“It’s three years tomorrow but I know we remember every day of the year how El Paso was victimized by a senseless act of violence and will continue to unite and be together and remember the families and victims and know: you will never be forgotten,” Leeser said.

The council later on Tuesday approved a resolution designating every August 3rd as “El Paso Strong Day.”

In reading the proclamation, City Rep. Henry Rivera noted the solidarity shown by random El Paso residents in immediately assisting the victims, ushering others to safety and later donating blood for the injured.  

“The incident was a devastating shock to the city so renowned for its welcoming hospitality and its close-knit sense of community,” Rivera said. “Three years have passed … but the passage of time the tremendous sense of grief felt over the loss of 23 innocent lives, nor has it lessened the resolve of the people of El Paso to stand together against the insidious forces of hatred, prejudice and violence.”

El Paso is scheduled to host several other events Tuesday and Wednesday in honor of the victims, survivors and their families.