Mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, left 32 people dead and millions of Americans feeling shellshocked Saturday, Aug. 3, and Sunday, Aug. 4.
In Cornelius, the city government and community group Centro Cultural de Washington County are coming together to hold a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of the shootings and show support for the Latino community.
The vigil will start at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 22, in the plaza outside the Cornelius Public Library.
Linda Osuna, who chairs the board of directors for Centro Cultural, and Cornelius Mayor Jef Dalin will jointly preside over the vigil. There are also a number of invited speakers, including Washington County Sheriff Pat Garrett, County Commissioner Jerry Willey, state Rep. Susan McLain, state Sen. Chuck Riley and Cornelius City Councilor Luis Hernandez.
The suspect in the slaying of 22 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, whom law enforcement sources have identified as 21-year-old Patrick Wood Crusius, allegedly told detectives he targeted "Mexicans" in the attack. A racist, anti-immigrant "manifesto" he is believed to have written circulated on the internet shortly after the mass shooting.
The motives of Dayton killer Connor Betts, 24, are murkier. Betts was shot and killed by law enforcement officers at the scene. Police are reportedly investigating his connections to the "incel" movement, a misogynistic internet culture that frequently promotes violence against women. One of Betts' victims was his sibling.
The El Paso shooting is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism and a hate crime targeting Latinos.
U.S. Census Bureau estimates indicate that nearly 53% of Cornelius residents identify as Hispanic or Latino. The city of Cornelius is home to several Latino-owned businesses, and Centro Cultural offers Spanish-language community programs and outreach.
"Both organizations partner in many ways to support our entire community and wish to continue the effort to make Cornelius a welcoming, caring, equitable and friendly community for all residents," a statement from Cornelius City Manager Rob Drake noted.
Attendees at the Aug. 22 vigil will be invited to light candles to honor community members and victims of the mass shootings.
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