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WorldAmong the Texas shooting victims: A high-school student, a beloved uncle and a father of two

01:10  02 september  2019
01:10  02 september  2019 Source:   washingtonpost.com

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A postal worker whose vehicle was hijacked. A former math teacher whom students adored. A 15-year-old who celebrated her quinceañera just a few months ago. A 25-year-old gunned down outside his home.

These are only some of the people killed Saturday in the Texas’s second mass shooting in a month.

Police, who have yet to identify the victims as the cities of Odessa and Midland grieve, raised the shooting’s death toll to seven Sunday. Authorities also fatally shot the gunman after he fled state troopers and shot more than 20 people, including several officers.

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At least one victim is still in “life-threatening” condition, Odessa police spokesman Steve LeSueur told the AP Sunday.

Speaking at a new conference Sunday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) highlighted a story of hope: that of 17 month-old Anderson Davis, whose mother texted Abbott Sunday to say her child was recovering. Davis was struck by a bullet fragment as her family drove to Lubbock, according to statement on a GoFundMe page attributed her mother. The shooting knocked out the toddler’s teeth and left a hole through her bottom lip and tongue.

“Toddlers are funny because they can get shot but still want to run around and play,” the child’s mother told Abbott.

Here are some of the people who did not survive.

Edwin Peregrino, 25

Edwin Peregrino was visiting his parents in Odessa when he heard gunshots outside.

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At first, they appeared to be coming from far away.

But when he ran into the yard to examine the commotion, according to his older sister, a gunman sped by and opened fire, killing Peregrino just outside the home he’d moved out of weeks earlier.

“It happened at our home, you think you’re safe at your own house,” Eritizi Peregrino, 23, said in an interview. “You’re not even safe at your own house.”

Eritizi Peregrino’s husband was also shot Saturday afternoon and is recovering, she said. But her brother, who’d come to visit for the weekend to talk about his new job and life in San Antonio, did not survive the attack, his sister said.

Edwin was a beloved uncle to two nephews and a niece, she said, but he wanted nothing more than to start his own family. Known for being somewhat of a troublemaker as a kid, Edwin had matured. He took pride in being there for others and his joking nature remained, serving as a point of comfort for those who knew him.

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“You could always count on him for anything,” she said.“ He would always help my parents and his siblings. I knew I could always rely on him and call on him.”

Leilah Hernandez, 15

Leilah Hernandez just celebrated her quinceañera this May.

Leilah’s grandma, Nora Leyva, had been helping the family plan the coming-of-age tradition for two years. Leyva wanted the perfect party for her oldest granddaughter, the 15-year-old who still spent most of her time with her family, who kissed and hugged her “Ama” when she’d drop by after school.

The party lived up to the Odessa High School student’s excitement, Leyva said. She felt and looked like a princess in an enormous green dress.“ It was like a dream for her,” Leyva said.

Among the Texas shooting victims: A high-school student, a beloved uncle and a father of two Leilah Hernandez in May at her quinceañera. Her grandmother planned the coming-of-age celebration for over a year. (Family photo courtesy of Nora Leyva)

Leilah’s mother felt like she was living another kind of dream as she mourned her daughter’s death in Saturday’s shooting, Leyva told The Post. She was glad to be stuck at the Odessa hospital where dozens of relatives had gathered to wait for updates on Leilah’s brother, still recovering from his wounds in the Intensive Care Unit. She told Levya she dreaded going home to Leilah’s room.

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Leilah was with her mother, her mother’s boyfriend and her 18-year-old brother Nathan Saturday as they picked up a truck Nathan had saved up for.

He and Leilah were walking out of the dealership — Nathan had the key in hand — when the white gunman began shooting randomly out of his car, according to Levya.

“I guess he was just looking for someone to kill,” she said.

Leyva’s daughter pushed her Leilah’s nine-year-old brother under a car. Nathan wrapped his arms around his sister, taking a bullet in his right arm. The next shot, Levya said, went through Hernandez’s left shoulder, near her collarbone.

“Help me, help me,” was all the girl said as she died, Leyva said.

It took 20 minutes for the ambulance to arrive. Authorities put pressure on the wound from both sides but “it was just too much blood coming out,” Levya said. They told Nathan as they took him away in an ambulance: “Your sister did not make it.”

Leyva heard the story from her daughter after she arrived at the hospital Saturday evening. She scrambled to get there with her other granddaughter after word of the shooting sent the Odessa mall where she was shopping into lockdown. She dashed out of the Verizon store where she and her granddaughter sheltered after the calls from family started pouring in.

Knowing only that her grandchildren had been shot, she ran the 50 feet from the store to her car as other shoppers stayed inside, fearful of the shooter.

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Leilah was still figuring out what she wanted to do with her life, Levya said. She played volleyball, but she’d started to worry to her grandma that she wasn’t good at it. She had friends but not that many. Last week, Leilah’s mother confided to Leyva that the girl had cried after other students picked on her at school.

But mostly, Leyva said, Leilah was a happy girl. She was excited to start catechism classes this week. She adored her parents.

“It’s just so hard,” Leyva said. “I’m not gonna be seeing her no more.”

The Ector County school district, which includes Odessa High School, has not named Leilah but acknowledged that one of its students is among the dead.

“We are heartbroken and outraged by the violence that struck our community and our school district today,” the district wrote a statement posted on Facebook. “Our lives have been changed forever.”

Counselors from the school district and the broader region are “preparing to help our staff, our students and our families through this tragedy,” the district added.

Joseph Griffith, 40

Among the Texas shooting victims: A high-school student, a beloved uncle and a father of two © Photo courtesy of Carla Byrne/Photo courtesy of Carla Byrne Joseph "Joe" Griffith, 40, was killed by a mass shooter on Aug. 31, 2019. He leaves behind a wife and two children, according to his sister, Carla Byrne. (Photo courtesy of Carla Byrne)

Carla Byrne, the oldest sister of Joseph Griffith, told The Washington Post her brother was shot and killed by the suspect while sitting at a traffic light with his wife and two children.

“This maniac pulled up next to him and shot him, took away his life, murdered my baby brother. Like nothing,” she said. “We are so broken.”

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Griffith was previously a math teacher who developed close bonds with his students, Byrne said. A day before he was killed, a former student had approached Griffith to express how much of an “awesome teacher he was.”

Byrne recalled her brother’s sense of humor, hallmarked an uncanny ability to impersonate anyone. But nothing, she said, superseded his devotion to his wife and children.

He worked six days per week to support them, she added.

“He was my baby brother,” Byrne said. “Our family is devastated and broken at this loss.”

Mary Granados, 29

A GoFundMe for memorial expenses identified Mary Granados as the postal worker killed after her vehicle was stolen.

“I had the privilege to work with Mary before she started her career at USPS,” said the creator of the online fundraiser, Leslie Aide. “[S]he was beautiful inside and out, with a great heart and always ready to be a friend, always had a smile on her face!”

Rosie Granados told CNN that she heard her 29-year-old sister — an Odessa resident who had worked at the Postal Service for about a year --- scream on the phone as she was shot.

“It was very painful,” she told the network. “I just wanted to help her and I couldn’t I thought she had got bite by a dog or something. I tried calling her name and she wouldn’t answer.”

Knowing her sister’s mail route, Rosie drove off to find her.

“We are all broken, we are all suffering about this,” she said.

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