Ripple effects of El Paso mass shooting felt in Colorado

Columbine survivor has message of hope
Posted at 11:30 PM, Aug 03, 2019

DENVER -- Mass shootings, like the one in El Paso, have ripple effects reaching all the way to Colorado and around the world.

Many people in metro Denver have connections to that west Texas city.

"Last night could have been the last time that I saw my uncles," said Felipe Rosales of the the hip hop band, Flip & the Combined Effort.

The band performed in El Paso Friday night, then traveled to Denver for a Saturday night show at Bowman's Vinyl & Lounge on South Broadway.

Rosales told Denver7 that as soon as he learned about the mass shooting in his home town, he immediately thought of two uncles in law enforcement.

"So, of course I texted my Mom, and she's like 'they're already there ready to do what they need to do.' And all day, I was just waiting for the text, they're home now."

C-U quarterback Steven Montez is also from El Paso.

He said he's praying for his hometown, and for the families who lost loved ones.

"All my family and friends are back there," he said, "so it's definitely very close to home."

Denver7 digital producer, Oscar Contreras, panicked after he got word about the shooting.

His mom, Gloria Perez, lives in El Paso.

Perez told Denver7 that were it not for fate, she would have been shopping at the Walmart where the mass shooting occurred.

"I usually go to that store before noon," she said. "I like to go before it gets crowded...but I had to attend training (Saturday) morning and after training I had plans with my friends to go out for lunch. After lunch we were going to go to the Walmart."

While at training, Perez noticed numerous police cars and ambulances heading down the street.

"I thought there was an accident on the freeway," she said.

After learning about the mass shooting, Ms. Perez said she went home and watched the local news, reaching out to friends to make sure they were okay, while other friends reached out to her.

"God took care of me," she said.

Denver7 reached out to Columbine survivor Crystal Woodman Miller to ask her reaction to the latest mass shooting.

"It's happened far too many times," she said.

Woodman Miller said, "it's impossible to imagine, as a mom, walking into your local store to get groceries and then everything changes in the blink of an eye."

She said she wants the survivors and families affected by the tragedy to know there is hope.

It's a message she has been invited to share many times, in churches, communities and schools.

Among the places she has been: Virginia Tech, Newtown, Connecticut and Parkland, Florida.

"I tell them," she said, "that although it feels impossible right now, healing will come eventually, and it's a process of choosing hope every single day, but healing will come."

The Columbine survivor said it's important to note that when something happens, like the STEM school shooting in Highlands Ranch, "it's not just another event to flash across our phone, or on the news for one night or a few days, these are people's lives that are forever changed."

When asked how she has the strength to console so many people experiencing tragedy, she replied, "First and foremost, I have faith in Jesus. That is my foundation. That is what allows me not to be shaken each and every time another events happens."

She also said she had the support of her church, her family and her friends.

Woodman Miller said, in her view, there is no single solution to the epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings.

She mentioned guns.

"I believe that is an important conversation to have," she said, "but don't miss-hear me. I believe it is one part of a huge puzzle."

The Columbine survivor added, "It's the gun conversation, it’s the mental health conversation. It’s social media. It’s Hollywood and what we’re watching and listening too, and video games we’re playing. It’s the breakdown of the family, the family structure. It’s the break down in society and culture. It’s safety. I mean there are so many facets that have to look at before we see a solution and there's not one band aid that’s going to fix this problem."

She said she hopes things change in her lifetime.

"It’s taken us years and years to get to this point," she said, "meaning it’s going to take us years and years to get back to a place where we can go to the grocery store without fear of being harmed, or we can go to the movie theater, or a concert, to schools or to a Walmart, without fear of being gunned down."

She added that people who have been through the carnage of a mass shooting can help in ways that other can't.

"I think there is something so important about coming and wrapping our arms around a community, those of us who’ve experienced it, who can relate, who can say, 'I've been there.' You can look at another survivor and you don’t have to explain all the details because we already know."

She ended the conversation by saying, "There is so much division, but we're all closer than we believe. We're all for life. We're all for seeing these things ended."