Marfa native collects water donations for Midland and Odessa shooting victims

MARFA — At ten minutes until 7 p.m., Joe Herrera was sitting on his truck’s tailgate waiting for more people to arrive. He camped at the Thunderbird Hotel parking lot Tuesday afternoon to collect cases of bottled water for those affected by the Midland/Odessa shooting that occurred on September 1.

“This is my way of showing that Marfa people are awesome,” said Herrera.

Herrera was in town this weekend for the annual Marfa Lights Festival. He drove a truck during the parade that carried his sister, Sara Ontiveroz, and her high school classmates for their 30th class reunion.

“Of all freaking weekends, the weekend that I come to Marfa is when the thing in Midland and Odessa happens,” said Herrera.

A gunman killed seven people and injured 22 others during a shooting spree on Saturday, August 31, in Midland and Odessa. Herrera’s first broadcast job was at KOSA-TV/CBS7 in Odessa, and it upsets him to watch his former station stressed from covering the event.

Herrera currently works for KSAT in San Antonio. Covering the Sutherland Springs church shooting in 2017 and the El Paso shooting a month ago, the thing that Herrera remembers the most is seeing everyone tired and dehydrated from the Texas heat. He learned that water is one of the more important things that are needed during the aftermath of a mass shooting.

“There are so many people there: first responders, people who are going to mourn, the media. We had a case there for ourselves in our truck. Even then, that wasn’t enough,” said Herrera.

After seeing the people come together to help those affected in El Paso, Herrera wanted to see the town of Marfa get involved for the Midland/Odessa community as well.

“I know Marfa people. Given the opportunity, they’ll come running,” said Herrera.

And they did. Herrera announced on Monday that he would be collecting bottled water donations to drop off on his way back to San Antonio. It was a slow start when he arrived at 1 p.m., but the donations started coming in.

“I was expecting people to donate a case or two. Some people donated four,” said Herrera.

Porter’s grocery store donated 10 cases after Herrera asked the manager, Rigo Cruz, to spread the word about the donations.

When school board member Lori Flores dropped off two cases minutes before Herrera called it a night, she told him that Dollar General was sold out of bottled water cases, and Porter’s had just four cases left. Herrera laughed.

“I didn’t even think of that. That people would sell out Marfa of water,” said Herrera.

He was very appreciative though. The weight of the donations inched his truck bed closer to Herrera’s rear tires and he joked that his three-hour trip to Midland and Odessa would turn into a four-hour drive. He was a bit worried about his gas mileage, but he received some cash donations to help pay for gas. Herrera is on vacation until the end of the week, so he can take his time getting back.