Two fathers rushed to the scene of the shooting at a Walmart in El Paso on Saturday to save their friends, who were running a lemonade stand to raise money for their daughters’ soccer team when the shots rang out.
Ray Garcia was on the phone with his wife while out running errands when he saw four police cars race by him with sirens blaring.
Sensing something was wrong, he hung up the phone and answered another call from his friend, Jimmy Villatoro.
The father, whose son plays baseball with Garcia’s, frantically revealed that a fellow parent, Maribel Saenzpardo, had been shot outside the Walmart where they’d been selling limonadas and agua orchata drinks to raise money for their daughters’ upcoming soccer season.
Saenzpardo’s husband Danny, who was out of town, had called Villatoro and begged him to make sure that his children were okay.
‘Ray, Ray, Ray – Maribel’s been shot,’ a panicked Villatoro told Garcia.
Both fathers quickly sped in the direction of the nearby Walmart, where they laid eyes on the aftermath of what would become the eighth-deadliest mass shooting in American history.
Saenzpardo was one of the first parents to arrive for the fundraising effort on Saturday morning, along with Memo Garcia, Jessica Coca Garcia and their children.
The girls soccer team they were raising money for, EP Fusion, is part of the Paso Del Norte Soccer Association League, a regional squad which competes in New Mexico, Texas and Mexico.
Several of the girls on the team have brothers who play with X Squad Baseball, the team Villatoro and Garcia’s sons play on.
At 10.39am local time, a gunman armed with an AK-47-style rifle opened fire on the parking lot and inside the store, killing at least 20 people and injuring 26 others.
The suspect was identified as 21-year-old Patrick Crusius of Allen, Texas.