Eye on Texas: An El Paso Times Photographer Mourns With the City

“What people don’t understand about El Paso is this is the biggest small town in the world.”

A boy looks at teddy bears left for children killed.
A boy looks at teddy bears left for children killed. Mark Lambie

“What people don’t understand about El Paso is this is the biggest small town in the world.”

A boy looks at teddy bears left for children killed.
A boy looks at teddy bears left for children killed. Mark Lambie

As told to Rose Cahalan on August 7, four days after a gunman killed 22 people at an El Paso Walmart.

I’ve been a staff photographer at the El Paso Times for 18 years. I was covering UTEP football practice on Saturday morning [the day of the shooting]. My phone started dinging probably around 10:20, and I got on the scene by 10:35. Everybody was moving around like zombies, just in complete shock. We were all at a loss. I’m so tired that I haven’t had time to process any of this. I get home at night and I’m editing the final work of the day and it starts to hit … You have these two-minute cries every once in a while.

El Pasoans show up in masses Monday, August, 5, 2019, to pay their respects to those who lost their lives in an attack that killed 22 people and wounded 24 others. A tragedy like the August, 3, mass murder brought togther an otherwise peaceful community of 700,000; 2 million when you count.
El Pasoans showed up in masses to pay their respects to those who lost their lives in the attack that claimed 22 lives and left 25 others injured.  Mark Lambie

When I took these photos at the memorial outside the Walmart, there was an overwhelming odor of flowers. You could be standing 40 feet away and you’d still smell the flowers and candles. Church groups were singing and praying, mariachis playing, strangers hugging. This town is really good about coming together. Trump will be flying in later today, and while he has every right to come, I personally think it’s bad timing. It makes me sad that instead of healing and support, today will be about politics. That’s not what we need right now.

What people don’t understand about El Paso is this is the biggest small town in the world. We’re separated from the rest of the country, you know? The nearest big city is Albuquerque, four hours away. We have this little island effect here. We average only about 15 to 18 murders per year, so to have 22 in one day is unthinkable. Right now, the feeling across the city is anger. Because somebody came in from outside of our peaceful community and targeted us.

The memorial outside the Walmart in El Paso, Texas, continues to grow Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, as more El Pasoans arrive to leave flowers, pray and light a candle for the victims of the attack at Walmart on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019, that claimed 22 lives and left 25 others injured
The memorial outside the Walmart in El Paso grew as more residents arrived to leave flowers, pray, and light a candle for the victims of the attack.  Mark Lambie

See more photos from Eye on Texas at www.texasobserver.org/eyeontexas. CALL FOR ENTRIES: Seeking Texas-based documentary photography. Please send inquiries to [email protected].

Read more from the Observer:

Do you think free access to journalism like this is important?
The Texas Observer depends on support from its members to keep telling stories like the one you are reading now. This fall we're looking for 200 more sustaining members—people like you who can give us as little as $0.99 per month. Your membership means we can continue shedding light on issues that might otherwise go unreported. Can we count on you?


Mark Lambie is a Canadian by birth and a border resident by choice. Lambie has worked in photojournalism for 24 years covering the border communities of El Paso and Juarez for the El Paso Times with a focus on immigration and cross-border culture.


You May Also Like:

Top