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Photo: El Paso News
Photo: El Paso News

The El Paso Walmart Massacre: Fake heroes and too many unsolved questions

Filmmaker Charlie Minn shows the most humane, brutal and raw face of the El Paso Massacre in the documentary 915, to be released on October 9.

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Liliana Muñoz saw the attacker standing about 10 meters away from her, on an "alto" in the parking lot of the Walmart in Cielo Vista. She told her aunt, "get down on the floor," but as she was about to do so, a bullet hit her leg and she fell to the ground. From that moment on, she only saw the man's jeans and his rifle, her mind blocked out the rest. Liliana managed to survive by playing dead.

"When I saw him leave (the store) I thought he was going to come back and kill me," she said.

The testimony of this 36-year-old Juarez woman who was a victim of the massacre in El Paso on Aug. 3, 2019, which took the lives of 23 people, is part of the documentary 915 by filmmaker Charlie Minn, who interviewed numerous witnesses and victims of the tragedy and explored the complexities and loose ends of one of the biggest mass killings in recent U.S. history, while putting a human face to the reality in a very graphic and, according to the filmmaker, necessary way. 

"What is more shocking: To say that 25 people were shot or to show that 25 people were shot? I think it's much more important to see exactly what's happening," said Minn, who throughout his career has documented acts of violence and barbarism in Mexico and the United States, such as in Eight Murders a Day about the death tinderbox in Juárez or the Las Cruces bowling alley massacre, which took place in 1990 and remains unresolved.

"Everyone knows something horrible happened at Walmart, but nothing more. It's a shame that the (El Paso) police chief is not accessible to the media," Minn told El Diario de El Paso.

For the filmmaker, there are too many questions left unanswered. For example, why did the police arrive so late to the scene of the massacre and how could it be that an murderer committed the sixth-largest mass shooting in U.S. history and managed to escape? 

"One of the saddest parts of the tragedy has been the aftermath. We've come across fake heroes, people who have been arrested, someone who was found dead and other unsolved questions," added the director, for whom it has often tended to be overlooked that it was a hate crime directed against Mexicans. 

"Mexican citizens have received very little attention, especially in the United States, and I consider it a disgrace," he concluded, giving some clues about the revealing data the documentary provides.

The film 915 — the title alludes to the telephone code of El Paso — was supposed to be released on the anniversary of the tragedy, last Aug.t 3, but it will finally be shown on Oct. 9 at the Premiere Cinemas of Basset Places and will be in theaters for a week.

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