Marfa raises funds and prays for El Paso

A vigil held at the County Courthouse for El Paso shooting victims (Photo by Sarah M. Vasquez)

MARFA – The Lost Horse Saloon was packed Thursday night as local band The Grand Tourists took the stage and collected donations for those affected by the shooting that killed 22 people, most with Hispanic surnames, on August 3 in El Paso. A 21-year-old man drove over 10 hours from Allen, a suburb north of Dallas, to target Mexicans in the border city. El Paso is one of the closest cities from Marfa, so when the news spread, Marfa residents came together to organize fundraisers and events to show their support of the city.

El Cosmico cancelled its weekly hot dogs and cornhole event that night and encouraged people to attend the show at the Lost Horse. The Grand Tourists raised $1,300 for the El Paso Community Foundation’s victim fund from the donations they collected in the tip jar while they played on stage. Some attendees took out their wallets and directly gave donations to guitarist/singer Pat Keesey as he walked around with the large plastic container during intermission.

Keesey thought the show was fun and was happy with the turnout. It was a mix of locals and visitors drinking and dancing to the tunes of old country and classic rock songs. Scott May was one the Marfa residents to bring his support.

“El Paso needs our help right now and Marfa’s just got a big heart. I want to be a part of that big heart,” said May.

Ballroom Marfa scheduled Friday night’s screening for the documentary, Cassandro, The Exótico!, weeks ago, but proceeds from the event poster will be donated to the El Paso Community victim funds as the main subject, Cassandro, who is one of the world’s first openly gay luchadores, was born and raised there. He asked the crowd after the screening on Friday night to take a moment for his hometown.

“Let’s send a big message of El Paso Strong one more time, because it’s a lot of what’s happening back home, and I just want them to know that they’re in my light and in my heart always,” said Cassandro.

There are a few posters still available for purchase online at

Twenty people from different denominations gathered Saturday morning in front of the Presidio County Courthouse for a community prayer vigil for the victims and families in El Paso.

Led by Rev. Michael Wallens from Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church and Father John Paul Madanu from St. Mary’s Catholic Church, the group said prayers that shared messages of unity and love, as well as lighting candles in memory of the 22 lives lost in the shooting.

“This is an important thing to do, I think, for all of us, and so we, in a sense, are praying not only for the people in El Paso, but on behalf of the people in Marfa,” said Wallens.

The vigil was slightly delayed to wait for Cecy Rodriguez, her mom, Olga Church, and her aunt, Lulu Baeza, who were walking, to reach the courthouse. Baeza is 94 years old, and she was adamant that she would walk from her house near Marfa Elementary School to the vigil at the courthouse that morning.

“This is actually a very big sacrifice for her because she’s homebound,” said Church.

Baeza watched the news unfold on August 3, which motivated her to attend the vigil. Church thought she would forget, but it was the first thing Baeza mentioned Saturday morning. They had to stop twice during their walk to give Baeza a moment to sit down, but they eventually made it.

Rodriguez and her family live in El Paso and were safe from the shooting, but she said the shooting affected everyone.

“It was such a shock for everyone. We’ve always lived in such a calm, quiet community,” said Rodriguez.

She usually visits her mom during the weekends in Marfa, so she wanted to come to the vigil once she heard about it. Baeza sat on a bench next to Church and Rodriguez during the vigil. Standing across from them were Teresa and Bob Close from New Orleans. The couple was in town for their son’s wedding. The original plan that morning was to read the notices on the courthouse’s door. Instead, they learned about the community prayer and decided to stay.

“We’re so grateful to be here,” said Teresa. “I’ve been looking for something to do to hold these people up. You feel so helpless after something like this.”