EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Many continue to feel anguish and grief more than two weeks after the Walmart mass shooting. For one family in particular, that pain has been made worse by imagining what could have been.
Inside a mobile home in the Lower Valley, surrounded by flowers, hangs a photo of 15-year-old Javier Amir Rodriguez. It serves as a tribute to the teenager who was murdered inside the Cielo Vista Walmart.
“There’s not one day that he wouldn’t make me laugh,” Octavio Lizarde, Javier’s uncle said.
Lizarde survived the shooting, but there is one scenario that plays over and over in his head.
“Why didn’t he have the courage, the heart to tell everyone to get in there?” Lizarde said. “Why just you and your employees, I didn’t see everyone who went in there I just saw him.”
Lizarde is talking about the moments before his nephew was shot and killed while standing outside the First Convenience Bank near the front of the store — before bullets tore through his own leg. He said a bank employee inside the Walmart could have saved his nephew’s life.
“It really made me mad that they didn’t open the door,” Lizarde said.
Lizarde said he had gone to the First Convenience Bank inside the Walmart to cash a check.
While he waited in line with his nephew, gunfire erupted.
“Not even two minutes, five minutes later, it starts,” he said.
Then chaos ensued.
“I was hugging him,” Lizarde said. “I put him down and I said ‘don’t move, don’t say anything.'”
Lizarde said a bank employee pushed past customers and locked himself in a room inside the bank. In an effort to save his nephew, Lizarde tried to get into the room.
“I tried opening the door handle and thought why won’t they open it,” he said.
He said he pounded on the door, but the door never opened. Lizarde said if the bank employee would have opened the door, others could have survived.
Lizarde and Javier tried to hide underneath a teller counter, and that’s when the shooter saw them, he said.
Lizarde was shot in the foot. Also shot, was his nephew who he’d tried so hard to protect.
“I was looking at my nephew and said ‘no, no this can’t be it,'” he said. “I moved him and I just couldn’t believe it.”
Lizarde’s attorney recently sent the bank and Walmart a “Preservation Letter.” The legal notice places partial blame on the bank.
“We are ready to proceed against you and hold you responsible for the injuries sustained by our client, as your business was negligent when it failed to properly care for our client’s safety.”
The letter is asking the bank to preserve all data related to the shooting, including video and audio recording. Since last week, KTSM has tried repeatedly tried to make contact with First Convenience Bank, but our calls and emails have not been returned.
Back at his home in the Lower Valley, Lizarde is still recovering from his wounds. His foot will require several surgeries.
He spends a lot of time in front of Javier’s photo, praying to God to give him strength.
“I think about scenes in my mind,” he said. “I could have done this, I could have done that. I’m gonna go through that all the time, but maybe God wanted it that way. I’m not mad. I’ll accept it but I do miss him.”