Ceremonies for El Paso shooting anniversary shaped by virus

Twenty-three pillars of light shot into a cloudy El Paso sky to commemorate the lives lost during a shooting that targeted Mexicans at a Walmart one year ago

EL PASO, Texas — Twenty-three pillars of light shot into a cloudy El Paso sky to commemorate the lives lost during a shooting that targeted Mexicans at a Walmart one year ago — a memorial visible from both sides of the US-Mexico border.

The white beams stood out against the orange glow of the border lights Sunday night as people lit paper lanterns and played music in a park in a ceremony marking a year since the attack. There was a service for the families of the victims, but the gathering was closed to the public.

Events to commemorate the shooting in El Paso, and another hours later that killed nine people in Dayton, Ohio, have been reshaped by the coronavirus. The pandemic has added peril to the kind of gatherings that would have otherwise marked the grim anniversary, but did not stop the largely Hispanic city of 700,000 from showing unity.

On Monday, the Walmart where the shooting took place delayed opening until noon. Residents and store employees wearing masks laid flowers and lit candles at a monument. After sundown, a star of lights is set flash once for each of the victims on the mountains that overlook the city.