El Paso shooting victim remembered at funeral: ‘She was just a beautiful person’
Angelina Silva Englisbee’s seven grown children sobbed as they draped a gold-edged white pall over her casket Friday before escorting it into St. Pius X Catholic Church, where she had been a parishioner.
For the record:
1:17 PM, Aug. 09, 2019An earlier version of this article said that Angelina Silva Englisbee had seven children, six of whom were alive. She had eight, seven of whom are alive and attended her funeral.
“She was just a beautiful person,” said son Will Englisbee, who had lived with his mother in El Paso.
Angelina Englisbee was one of 22 people killed last Saturday when a gunman opened fire at the Walmart in El Paso where she had been shopping. Hers was the first of the funerals of shooting victims to be held in El Paso, although funerals have been held for some of the Mexican victims across the border in Ciudad Juarez.
A suspect, Patrick Crusius, confessed to carrying out the killings, according to an arrest affidavit released Friday. “The defendant stated his target were ‘Mexicans,’ ” the affidavit said.
After the shooting, Will Englisbee and his sister searched fruitlessly for their mother, pleading publicly for information for days before authorities identified her as among the dead. “We want to move on now,” he said after Friday’s service.
Englisbee, 86, was a widow whose children described her as “sassy.” Chris Parra, a close family friend, said Englisbee had worked in sales at a local staffing agency and at a workforce group helping people find employment. “She went out of her way to get jobs for people who had trouble getting them,” he said.
“She was a very strong-willed lady,” said Parra, 57, of El Paso, adding that Englisbee’s children called her “the commander.” She had eight children, one of whom died at birth.
“They talked about her wherewithal, raising all those kids,” said the Rev. Mike Lewis, who led the funeral Mass. Lewis invited members of the parish to attend in solidarity with Englisbee, who was cremated.
Will Englisbee said he was encouraged by the overflow crowd, many of whom stopped to hug him and share condolences.
“It’s awesome. These are people that love her,” he said.
Among those in attendance was El Paso Mayor Donald “Dee” Margo.
Helvia Martinez, 81, who sang in the church choir at the funeral, had to leave soon after to sing at a memorial for the shooting victims, and planned to sing at another victim’s funeral Saturday. After the attack, she said she became depressed and afraid to go out shopping because the shooter had targeted fellow Latinos.
“We are a very loving people,” she said. “How can he do this? He doesn’t know us.”
Lewis began the funeral Mass by alluding to the attack.
“On a day like today, there are many directions we can go in our prayer,” he told the crowd. “We can be in sorrow, in anger even, at how Angie died, including anger at God for letting something like this happen.”
Instead, he urged them to have faith and to love one another, “especially those who are hard to love.”
“This faith is what carried her through the tragedies of her own life: the loss of an infant, the loss of a husband far too early,” Lewis said of Englisbee. “Your presence today speaks volumes. Go forth from here and show charity and love to each other.”
Before the hearse left, Englisbee’s children each touched the casket and said their goodbyes through tears.
“The emotions are still raw,” Parra said, “And they will be.”
A memorial was also held in El Paso on Thursday for shooting victim Leonard Cipeda Campos, 41, whose remains were to be cremated after a funeral Friday in his hometown of McAllen, Texas, according to a relative and the El Paso nonprofit Operation H.O.P.E., which is coordinating services for some of the victims’ families.
On Thursday, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke crossed the border to attend one of the funerals held in Juarez for some of the eight Mexican victims of the shooting. President Trump visited El Paso on Wednesday, meeting local leaders and first responders and visiting University Medical Center, where eight victims were still being treated. The victims declined to meet Trump, according to hospital spokesman Ryan Mielke.
“They had different reasons,” Mielke said.
The suspect, Crusius, 21, of Allen, Texas, was in custody and faces capital murder charges. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
The FBI is still investigating the attack as a potential hate crime and domestic terrorism. In an online rant Crusius apparently posted less than half an hour before the shooting, he railed against a Latino “invasion” in Texas.
In the arrest warrant affidavit, Det. Adrian Garcia wrote that Crusius described entering the store with an AK-47 and multiple magazines. “The defendant stated once inside the store he opened fire using his AK-47 shooting multiple innocent victims,” the detective said.
Times staff writer Matthew Ormseth in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
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