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On the fourth anniversary of the Odessa mass shooting, locals gather to remember those lost

Yellow roses were laid on chairs in honor of the seven people who were killed in the 2019 mass shooting.
Mitch Borden
/
Marfa Public Radio
Yellow roses were laid on chairs in honor of the seven people who were killed in the 2019 mass shooting.

Odessa residents gathered on Thursday to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the mass shooting that took place in the West Texas city in 2019.

Family members of victims, locals and community leaders gathered at the University of Texas Permian Basin to remember the seven people killed and the 25 others injured during the approximately hour-long shooting spree.

Odessa Fire and Rescue Chief Jason Cotton recalled looking up and seeing a board listing the 911 calls as they began to come in that day.

Over and over, Cotton said, the board read, “gunshot, then another one said gunshot, then another one said gunshot.”

Cotton praised the efforts of first responders and police, then asked people to be kind in the memory of those killed: Rodolfo Arco, Kameron Brown, Raul Garcia, Mary Granados, Joe Griffith, Leilah Hernandez and Edwin Peregrino.

OFR Chief Jason Cotton address the audience by a sculpture that will reside at the memorial for the shooting.
Mitch Borden
/
Marfa Public Radio
OFR Chief Jason Cotton address the audience by a sculpture that will reside at the memorial for the shooting.

“In honor and in remembrance of Leilah, Mary, Joe, Edwin, Rodolfo, Kameron and Raul, simply smile and say hello to them as they pass,” Cotton said. “Make someone laugh, check on a family member or friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.”

Kelby Davis’ daughter Anderson Davis was 17 months old when she was injured by shrapnel during the shooting.

“Today is very painful, and that’s why it’s so important that we do come together,” she said. “Sit in those mixed feelings and emotions of pain, loss, hurt and grief, but also the hope that comes with tomorrow.”

Davis said her daughter just started kindergarten and is now happy and healthy. One thing she said that was really special was seeing so many people wearing yellow, signifying the community’s resilience.

Locals were encouraged to wear yellow to the sunrise service. Days after the shooting, the color came to symbolize the community's strength and resiliency accompanied by the phrase "Permian Basin Strong."
Mitch Borden
/
Marfa Public Radio
Locals were encouraged to wear yellow to the sunrise service. Days after the shooting, the color came to symbolize the community's strength and resiliency accompanied by the phrase "Permian Basin Strong."

“We associate the color yellow with the sun and the sunrise and with light and joy and happiness and smiles,” Davis said. “To see so many people today gathered together really created that community and light that we hope and pray this day will hold moving forward.”

Organizers hope next year’s ceremony will be held at the completed memorial for the Odessa shooting, which is currently under construction.

Mitch Borden is Permian Basin Reporter & Producer at Marfa Public Radio.