Family Of El Paso Victims Speaks Out Andre and Jordan Anchondo were among the 22 people killed after Saturday's shooting in El Paso. The Anchondo family says the couple died trying to shield their 2-month-old son from gunfire.

Family Of El Paso Victims Speaks Out

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


President Trump is visiting this city, as well as Dayton, Ohio, today. Both of these communities lived through tragedies last weekend. In Dayton, a gunman opened fire in an area of bars and restaurants, killing nine people. Here in El Paso, 22 people lost their lives in a massacre at a Walmart. Two of the people killed at that Walmart were two young parents, Andre and Jordan Anchondo. They were celebrating their one-year wedding anniversary. They were raising three kids - Jordan's two daughters and also a 2-month-old baby named Paul. They were with their baby at Walmart. He survived the shooting. Relatives say his mom and dad were killed while shielding their son from the gunfire.

We went yesterday afternoon to an auto body shop that's just a couple miles from downtown El Paso. We were meeting Tito Anchondo, Andre's older brother. It's been only a few days since he lost his brother and sister-in-law, but here he was, working at the shop with his dad. Tito is wearing his bright red company polo with his name sewn on the front. They were working on cars, though occasionally they were interrupted by friends and strangers driving by to express condolences and also drop-off donations.

TITO ANCHONDO: It's going to be rough without my brother being there. We just have to keep moving forward, and that's the reason we're open right now because the bills don't stop. And we have jobs here that still need to be finished. We can't just stop. I mean, we'd like to stop. We'd like a moment, but for somebody who's, you know, self-employed, like myself and my dad, it's - there's no possibility.

GREENE: Can I just ask about your brother? Like, what it was like...

ANCHONDO: Yeah (laughter).

GREENE: ...Growing up and what your relationship was like?

ANCHONDO: My brother always looked up to me. But one thing that he never knew was that I looked up to him. He was an entrepreneur. He was smarter at math than me. Actually, when he was in middle school, he would get candies in bulk from over here down the street and then he would go to the school and he would flip the candies and sell them for double. So he was always a business guy...

GREENE: That entrepreneurial mind was there early.

ANCHONDO: Definitely. He was able to start up his own business doing granite. He was installing beautiful kitchen countertops and islands and restrooms (laughter).

GREENE: That's great.

ANCHONDO: And he's an amazing person - very special. It takes a special kind of person, also, to adopt other children that aren't yours. But he was a great brother, a great son, a great husband. Jordan, as well, was a great wife. She helped him, you know, stay strong. My brother had problems at one point in his life, and he was, you know, going through some really dark times, but they both got out of the light together. That's why I like talking about him a lot 'cause he meant so much to me. I tried to be like him even if he didn't know that.

GREENE: Who do you think will take care of Paul and raise Paul?

ANCHONDO: I want to.

GREENE: Do you?

ANCHONDO: I want me and my wife to get together and, after all of this blows over, maybe we can take care of baby Paul because we're the next closest family unit.

GREENE: You might be ready to raise him.

ANCHONDO: Yeah. Definitely, definitely. I just had a newborn child. She's a month - baby Paul was born in, I believe, May, and my baby was born June 26.

GREENE: Oh, wow. Congratulations.

ANCHONDO: So thank you. So they're pretty close in age. And my brother was always like, you just got jealous and you had a baby because I had a baby. And I'm like, that's not even like that. You know, it's just the luck of the draw. But it brought us closer together that we both had our children, and we would always be asking, hey, how's Paul? How's Ruby? And it's just sad that that's not going to happen anymore. I just need to tell him that his father died a hero saving his life.

GREENE: When I came here to meet Tito, I wasn't going to bring up politics - at least not early in the conversation. It just seemed insensitive. But Tito pretty quickly brought up the president's visit to El Paso today. He said he wants President Trump to focus on the victims and the loss in this city. And he said he'd love for Trump to sit down with his family.

ANCHONDO: We want him to come and we want to talk to him about certain things. I don't know if you guys can help me with that. Because I think this is something very tragic that's happened and people need to know, like, what our feelings are as a family.

GREENE: Of course, there are some in El Paso who don't want the president to come to the city at all. Some here think that Trump's language about immigrants could have incited the violence that took the life of Tito's brother. And so I asked him about that.

ANCHONDO: I can see why people would believe that. And yes, maybe he said things in bad taste, but I think people are misconstruing President Trump's ideas.

GREENE: I'm sure people hearing from you are going to react in all different ways.

ANCHONDO: Definitely, especially since I'm Hispanic.

GREENE: And I know that there are some listeners who have been very angry at this president and feel like he's incited racism and are probably - might have thought like, you know, you have had - in this moment of tremendous loss, like, you were going to almost rise and be a spokesperson against some of what the president has said.

ANCHONDO: Yeah. I think - my brother was very supportive of Trump. We've always been Republican conservatives in our family.

GREENE: Mmm hmm.

ANCHONDO: Yes, maybe President Trump has said one or two things that we may not agree with, but in the big scope of everything, I don't think he's been a bad president, in my opinion.

GREENE: As I was talking with Tito, his father was working with a customer. He was keeping tabs on our conversation but not really seeming eager to join.

ANCHONDO: My dad's very Mexican macho. He doesn't like to show emotion. I'm sure he's cried by himself, but he doesn't - that's him right there actually.

GREENE: Oh, yeah.

ANCHONDO: Yeah. Hi, Dad. We're just trying to keep things going like normal. My mom's just in tears all the time. I don't even want to go and see her 'cause everybody keeps telling me that I look just like my brother. And I don't want her to even look at me because I don't want her to remember my brother's face when - it's tough guys. It's really, really tough.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Spanish).

ANCHONDO: (Speaking Spanish).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: No. (Speaking Spanish).


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Spanish).


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Spanish).

ANCHONDO: I'll go pick it up.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Spanish).

ANCHONDO: Yes, sir. Yeah, guys, I think we can wrap it up here.

GREENE: Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, I don't...

ANCHONDO: I just want you guys to push that out because I do want to speak to the president, honestly, see how he react - I want to see his reaction in person. I want to see if he's genuine and see if my political views are right or wrong. And see if he feels, maybe, some kind of remorse for statements that he's made or - I just want to have a human-to-human talk with him and see how he feels so...

GREENE: Well, we're all thinking about your family. And thanks for spending some time with us.

ANCHONDO: Thanks, guys. I got to stay strong for my family.

GREENE: That was Tito Anchondo. His brother and sister-in-law were killed Saturday at a Walmart here in El Paso. Paul, the 2-month-old baby, was treated for bruises and broken fingers and has been released from the hospital.

Copyright © 2019 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.