Widower’s death extends mourning tied to El Paso massacre
A man who gained worldwide sympathy and support after his wife was killed in a mass shooting in the Texas border city of El Paso was remembered Friday as kind and thoughtful but unable to get over the loss of the woman he loved.
Antonio Basco, 63, died Aug. 14, just over two years after his wife, Margie Reckard, was fatally shot along with 22 other people by a lone gunman who authorities say targeted Latinos in an attack that stunned the U.S. and Mexico.
Reckard’s August 2019 funeral drew thousands of people from as far away as Arizona and California and across the border in Mexico after Basco announced that he was alone with almost no family left and invited the world to join him in remembering his companion of 22 years. Few in attendance had ever met Reckard.
Flowers poured in and an SUV was donated to Basco, who made a modest living at washing cars and other odd jobs. The day of his wife’s funeral, a crowd of strangers stood in a line that wrapped around the block to pay their respects. Basco — a wiry, weathered man — embraced one visitor after another with open arms.
Some who were linked to Basco through the tragedy of his wife’s death gathered at his funeral.
Jose Luis Ozuna, a local retiree, said that he and his wife met Basco at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the Aug. 3, 2019, shooting and that Basco made an impression. Ozuna said Basco always put others ahead of himself.
So the last time Ozuna saw Basco, who was in tears as he struggled to cash a $300 check without an ID, Ozuna said he cosigned the withdrawal.
“We had a real good bond. He was a very loving kind of person,” Ozuna said. “We lost track of him because he lost his phone.”
Adria Gonzalez, an El Paso native who was inside the Walmart during the attack, said she saw Basco deteriorate mentally and physically in the months after his wife’s funeral, amid struggles with alcohol.
Basco was arrested and jailed in late 2019 for driving under the influence.
“He said he missed his wife,” Gonzalez said, “and he wasn’t the same.”
Basco died in a hospital after a months-long struggle with cancer, according to Roberto Sanchez, a local lawyer handling his estate.
Sanchez described Basco as a wanderer who was born and raised in Louisiana before he set out on an unmapped journey.
“I think I’d probably call him the Jack Kerouac of nowadays,” said Sanchez, referring to the Beat author who wrote the classic road trip novel “On the Road.” “He would go from city to city looking for employment. When he found the love of his life, that’s when he made El Paso his home.”
Basco lived to see the dedication of a permanent memorial to the 2019 shooting victims — a plaque and metal tower evoking a candle that stands outside the store where the attack occurred.
The man accused of carrying out the attack, Patrick Wood Crusius, faces state capital murder charges and more than 90 federal hate-crime and firearms counts.
The shooting happened on a busy weekend day at a Walmart that is typically popular with shoppers from Mexico and the U.S.
Authorities say Crusius aimed to scare Latinos into leaving the United States, driving from his home near Dallas to target Mexicans after posting a racist screed online.
Crusius has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyers said their client has been diagnosed with mental disabilities.
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