A 77-year-old husband shielded his wife from a heartless gunman who shot and killed at least 22 people during the mass shooting at an El Paso Walmart.
Juan de Dios Velazquez was a newcomer to El Paso. He had recently moved from Mexico with his wife Estella and they planned to shop at Walmart for groceries when a gunman, identified as 21-year-old Patrick Crucius, opened fire on Saturday morning, killing and injuring numerous people.
According to Reuters, Juan and Estela were almost inside the store when they heard shots being fired, their niece Norma Ramos said.
“He was arriving at the store when he was shot at close range and the bullet passed through him and hit my aunt Estela,” Ramos told the outlet during a phone interview. “Because he protected her, he took shots in his back.”
Ramos added that the bullet exited through Juan, hitting Estella in the stomach. Ramos added that bullet punctured Juan’s organs and he may possibly need additional surgery. He was taken to the Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso.
Estella also underwent surgery and is said to be in stable condition.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius has been arrested and charged with capital murder in connection with a Saturday morning mass shooting at the Walmart off of Hawkins and Gateway East boulevards. At least 22 were killed when the suspect allegedly started shooting at innocent victims. Officials said many others are in area hospitals, in critical condition.
Authorities said during a Sunday press conference that the case is being treated as domestic terrorism and they’ll be seeking the death penalty. El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen added that Crusius readily admitted to the shootings after being detained.
“He was forthcoming with information. He basically didn’t hold anything back,” Allen said.
Two law enforcement officials told ABC News that the suspect admitted to investigators “he wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as possible.”
The outlet reports that the Walmart where the shootings took place is in an area where Mexican tourists frequently visit. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador indicated that three Mexican nationals were killed during the massacre.
Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Mexico plans to take action “under international law.”
“Mexico declares its profound rejection and complete condemnation of this barbaric act, in which innocent Mexican men and women lost their lives,” Ebrard said on Twitter.
The story continues to develop. Check back with CrimeOnline for additional details.
[Feature Photo: Juan de Dios Velazquez and Estella/Twitter]