El Paso

'This guy was on a mission to shoot and kill,' says El Paso soccer mom wounded in massacre

Maribel Latin recovering at UMC after being shot

Shooting survivor speaks out

EL PASO, Texas - Maribel Latin and her daughter, Maylene, were excited.

The fundraiser to pay for Maylene's youth soccer team to play in a tournament in Tucson was going well. Maylene, 10, and other members of EP Fusion were selling aguas frescas outside both entrances to the Walmart near Cielo Vista Mall in east El Paso, and they were running out of supplies after only an hour.

"All the girls were excited because we were getting so many donations," Latin said. "They were jumping up and down ... laughing and having a good time."

Suddenly, Latin said, she heard what she thought were firecrackers.

She quickly realized that they were gunshots.

"I just yelled: 'They're shooting. Throw yourself on the floor.' We all threw ourselves on the floor. We had nowhere to run," she said.

Latin didn't realize that she had already been shot.

She is one of 26 people who survived after being shot by a gunman who opened fire on shoppers at Walmart on Aug. 3. Latin spoke to ABC-7 from her hospital bed on the fifth floor of University Medical Center of El Paso on Sunday morning. She was shot twice: once in the elbow and another time in the foot.

Latin said that at the time of the shooting, she was under a canopy that the coaches and their wives had set up in between the entrances to the retail store. She ducked behind an SUV belonging to the father of one of the coaches that was parked nearby.

"I looked to the front, and this guy was two cars away from us, just shooting at us. And I saw him reload his gun and walk towards us again. And he just cold-blooded came straight at us and shot us. He shot eight rounds," Latin said. "I had to pretend I was dead. He was right next to me. He shot eight more rounds, and all I could say was, 'God, please don't let him do anything to my daughter or any of the girls on our team.'"

Latin heard the shooter walk away and then heard what sounded like an echoing shot inside Walmart. "I thought: 'This is my sign. I need to get up,'" she said.

Latin said when she looked around, she saw blood everywhere and the team's coaches lying on the ground. 

"This guy was on a mission to just shoot and kill," Latin said. "And that's what he did."

Her thoughts then turned to her daughter, whom she last saw outside an entrance to Walmart.

After calling 911, she reached out to her husband, a truck driver who was two hours outside the city.

"'Honey, they're shooting us. We all got shot. I can't find our daughter,'" said Latin as she described her phone call to her husband. "'I'm hiding behind vending machines. Please help me. Call an ambulance. Please. There's -- everybody's laying on the floor bleeding. I need ambulances. Just call an ambulance.'"

Latin eventually spotted her daughter with a group of her teammates huddled together by the road between Walmart and Sam's Club.

"I swear, I saw like a light just shining right at them," she said. "I just ran towards them. My daughter saw me and said, 'Mom, you're bleeding.'"

Latin told ABC-7 that she hadn't realized that she had been shot and still didn't think she was wounded.

"I said, 'Let's just go, let's just go.' And she didn't want to run in front of me. She wanted to stay behind," she said. "And I said: 'Mamita, you run. Just run. Don't look back. Just run.' If the guy comes and shoots me I'd rather him shoot me, but get the girls out of there." 

"We hid between a couple of cars and sat on the floor. The girls were crying. They were asking about their dads. They were asking about their moms," Latin said as she choked up. "I knew where their dads were, but I couldn't tell them. And I just told them: 'Let's just be quiet, don't say anything. This guy's still out here, we don't want him to hear us.'"

Latin said she was approached by the mother of the head coach, who offered to take her to the hospital, but she refused. "'No, leave me here. Go take the girls and get them out of here. Just get them out.'"

Latin said she has yet to see her daughter in person and has only talked to her through a video chat. While Maylene wasn't injured, her mother knows that there may be damage done to her that can't be seen.

"She did see a lady get shot," Latin said. "I don't think she's grasped the idea that the lady got shot. She just said: 'A lady fell. She dropped her drink. I got scared. I went into the Walmart. I didn't know where to go.'"

Latin credits a Walmart employee for shielding her daughter and other members of the team from harm.

"A lady from the bakery grabbed them and took them with her," Latin said. She also described a moment that her daughter likely encountered the shooter. "She said that this guy went in (the bakery) and said: 'Where are you at? Where are you at?' and started throwing cakes around."

Latin is still coming to terms with what happened. She hasn't slept much since being admitted to the hospital.

"Everything is just a little record just playing over and over. It's just hard," she said. "And I'm just thinking of the coaches that are in the hospitals and everybody that's still battling."

She's also wondering why she was spared while others were not.

"I feel like I had a purpose," Latin said. "I don't know the reason, but I want something good to come out of this."

She also doesn't want El Paso's image as a safe city to be damaged by the mass casualty event.

"Nothing like this has ever happened in El Paso, and it's not fair that someone came from God knows where, just showed up and did something so ugly to us with so much hatred."

"I felt him right next to me," she added. "He was right next to me. He wasn't breathing hard. He was the calmest person ever. He didn't say anything. Just plain hatred and just anger."

But she said she doesn't hate him for what he did.

"You cannot cure hatred with hatred," she said. "I pray for him because something happened in his life that he had to do this to innocent people."


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