Beto O’Rourke Finds His Voice Helping El Paso Grieve

TIME magazine, August 2019.

The day before, O’Rourke had walked me through the victims and the families of victims that he’s met with, with striking recall—their injuries, their stories, their relationship to one another.

There was Octavio Lizarde, who was at Walmart shopping with his nephew. Lizarde survived with a foot blasted apart by a bullet, but his nephew, Javier Amir Rodriguez, did not.

There was Chris Grant, who threw items at the shooter to try to distract him. He was reportedly shot twice near his rib cage, but survived.

There was Maribel Latin, who was there with her daughter, selling horchata to fundraise for her soccer team. Latin hid behind vending machines. She was shot, but both of she and her daughter survived the ordeal.

As O’Rourke talked to Basco, someone shouted: “Beto! Vino el diablo y se fue! Solo le bastaron tres horas!” People laugh. The devil came and left, and he only lasted three hours—a reference to Trump’s visit to the city earlier that day.

After about an hour, O’Rourke left the memorial. Heat lightning appeared over the mountains in the distance. Basco remained, wearing a Ford baseball cap and blue checkered shirt and holding a handkerchief and a flower. Someone moved in to hug him. And then someone else gave him another hug. And another hug. And another hug. And another. And a sign of the cross on his forehead. And another hug. And Basco stood there, graciously accepting all of their condolences, as the sky turned purple and pink.