'Guns Are a Small Part of It': Mayor at Texas Vigil

Hundreds gather to pray and sing in West Texas
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 2, 2019 10:10 AM CDT
'Guns Are a Small Part of It': Mayor at Odessa Vigil
Los Angeles-based artists Noah Reich, right, and David Maldonado, behind the tree, hang a heart-shaped sign on a tree outside a benefit concert by Khalid for the Walmart shooting victims in El Paso, Texas, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019.   (Mark Lambie/The El Paso Times via AP)

Hundreds of people gathered Sunday at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin—a region known for its oil industry—at prayer vigil only hours after 8 were killed and 22 wounded in a nearby mass shooting, the AP reports. "We're out here in the middle of nowhere," Midland Mayor Jerry Morales told the crowd. "All we've talked about is oil forever. And then this happens." Words of comfort were a common theme as people consoled each other over an act of violence that remains unexplained, per NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. "In West Texas you have to be tough," said Odessa mayor David Turner, referring to the severe weather and up-and-down oil business. "Yesterday was a horrible day that shook us to our very foundation but it will not break us."

Many wrote words of comfort or Bible verses on a blacktop at the candlelight evening event, ABC News reports. "When we were singing 'Amazing Grace' I went to hold my phone up and tears came to my eyes because I thought, 'Oh my god,'" said Odessa resident Donna Belt. "I realized what we were standing there for—the tragedy that hit our community." Turner touched on politics when he spoke, saying "guns are a small part of" what causes mass shootings. He cited increased violence in movies and video games, saying, "The biggest problem we see are the hearts of individuals." Meanwhile, new laws are being introduced in Texas to loosen gun restrictions and allow firearms in apartments, schools, places of worship, and foster homes with children, per NBC News.

(Read more Odessa shooting stories.)

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