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VICE News

Here's the Moment an El Paso Congresswoman Learned the Massacre Was Underway

We were with Rep. Veronica Escobar at a town hall when the shooting began in the mall nearby.

by Evan McMorris-Santoro
Aug 7 2019, 3:25pm

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EL PASO, Texas — Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar often takes fellow Congress members on tours of the border, trying to convince them that El Paso is a "magical place" because it's connected to Mexico, not a dangerous one.

She’d given a few of those tours late last week, and then on Saturday, while she was hosting a town hall with her constituents, her worst fears were realized: In the middle of her discussion, a staffer quietly interrupted to tell her they had to stop the event. There was an active-shooter situation unfolding in a nearby mall.

The freshman Democrat’s deep knowledge of this city and its border crossings have made her a leader on immigration issues in the House. Ever since she entered Congress, she’s been warning that right-wing rhetoric around the border has "dehumanized" immigrants.

And now she was dealing up-close with a mass shooting spurred by that kind of hateful language.

What happened next was a story of a city and a politician working to figure out how to change tragedy into action, how to take a hopeless situation and find something to hope for.

"My obligation, as a member of Congress, is to fight for the solutions that this country and this community deserves," Escobar told VICE News. "This was absolutely needless."

VICE News was with Escobar as she learned about the shooting, and trailed her as she figured out what to do next.

This segment originally aired August 6, 2019, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.