22 white balloons, ‘Amazing Grace’ and a little hope

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After El Paso massacre, one Mexican-American grandmother turns to God for answers and comfort.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

For Monica Moreno, the first news of the El Paso, Texas, massacre came via social media.

A glance at Snapchat drew her attention to a relative’s post warning of an active shooter at a Walmart in Moreno’s hometown.

By the time the rampage ended that Saturday, 22 people were dead. They ranged in age from 15 to 90. Almost all had Hispanic surnames.

A single gunman, armed with an AK-47-style assault rifle and identified as an immigrant-hating white supremacist, was implicated. According to an affidavit, the suspect, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, told a police detective he targeted Mexicans. Crusius is charged with capital murder and being held without bond.

Moreno attends the Montwood Church of Christ in El Paso, the border city where she was born and raised. She stared at her television screen in disbelief.

“It hits so close to home,” the 48-year-old mother of six and grandmother of five told The Christian Chronicle. Her own mother and brother immigrated to the United States from neighboring Mexico.

As the FBI investigates the shooting as a case of domestic terrorism, Moreno grapples with the idea that the gunman chose victims based on their ethnicity — “with no remorse, like they didn’t mean anything.”

“It’s heartbreaking … so hard to believe,” she said. “I can’t imagine what the families are going through.”

Read the full story.

This story appears in the September print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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