Helping a community heal: How the Sun City’s athletes helped the city remain El Paso Strong


EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – In the days following the Walmart shooting on Aug. 3, 2019, the El Paso community came together in an indescribable way to lift each other up, and help honor the 23 people who lost their lives, as well as their families.

One of the ways that happened, was through sports. Whether it was El Paso Locomotive FC stepping up to help the EP Fusion soccer team; charity games and fundraisers; or the Eastwood Troopers playing Plano in a game that meant so much to the entire city.

KTSM spoke with some of El Paso’s most prominent sports figures, who all stepped up to help the community in its darkest time.

Ed Stansbury (9 Overtime): “August 3rd to me is one of those days where everyone will always remember where they were.”

Omar Salgado (El Paso Locomotive FC): “I was at breakfast at Julio’s down the street from my house.”

Christian Castaneda (former Eastwood quarterback): “I was at home, about to leave, and my mom told me, ‘there’s an active shooter at Walmart right now, and at first I didn’t think much of it.”

Sebastian Velasquez (former Locomotive FC midfielder): “I didn’t know the full details of the magnitude of how big of a deal this became.”

Katia Gallegos (UTEP point guard): “When it hits your home town, you’re just like, ‘there’s no way this just happened.”

Ed Stansbury: “It just consumed both my wife and I. It was to a point where we didn’t even want the kids watching the news.”

Christian Castaneda: “I started texting my friends and family, is everyone ok? Just checking up on everybody.”

Omar Salgado: “I was shocked. So I went home and started watching the news to see what was going on. Our game got canceled real shortly after that.”

Sebastian Velasquez: “Our first reaction as a family is to take care of our own. In that situation, my first thought was what can I do, how can I help my own?”

Katia Gallegos: “Everyone came together, everyone helped each other out, everyone was praying for the families. The shirts, everything that went on, it went quick and I think it’s amazing what El Paso is capable of.”

Ed Stansbury: “As big of a city as it is, there’s a small-town feel. I think everyone that grew up in El Paso is connected in one way or another.”

Omar Salgado: “That person’s end goal was to divide us in some way and at the end of the day I think it did just the opposite.”

Sebastian Velasquez: “I saw the girls (from EP Fusion) and I was very nervous to meet them. I don’t know why, I think it was just a sense of, ‘these girls just lived something so historic and I don’t know what their reaction is going to be.’ As soon as I came in they were jumping all over me.”

Omar Salgado: “Soccer is a community. It’s a community all over the world but we care for each other in times of need.”

Christian Castaneda: “That was the one football game (Eastwood vs. Plano) that I played that the focus wasn’t just football. It was great. We had the spotlight to show out for our city, show out for the people we love and show out for the 23 victims.”

Colin Deaver: “What does the phrase El Paso Strong mean to you?”

Omar Salgado: “It’s life changing. It defines our community and how united we are.”

Ed Stansbury: “Normal citizens, shoppers that were there that were coming to the aid of people. The support that poured out from the entire city.”

Katia Gallegos: “It means we’re here, we’re strong and nothing will back us down.”

Sebastian Velasquez: “Love beats hate every single time. The way the community of El Paso reacted was unreal.”

Christian Castaneda: “El Paso Strong is a really emotional phrase to me. It just gives me so much motivation.”

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