Roberto Jurado hid with his 88-year-old mother between toy machines at the entrance of the Cielo Vista Walmart.

Lying in broken glass, he listened as the sound of gunshots grew closer. Then the man with the AK-47 was only 10 feet away.

“That day, I believe I stared death in the eyes,” Jurado, 53, said.

But the shooter left after his attention was drawn to a moving vehicle outside the store, and Jurado and his mother survived.

Jurado spent the next few hours helping victims in the Aug. 3 mass shooting and giving statements to police. Later that evening, he sat down, popped open a beer and flipped on the news: The gunman had allegedly driven more than 600 miles across the state from North Texas to target Hispanics in the border community.

The fear and adrenaline he felt throughout the day turned to anger. He’d been a target of the deadliest attack against Latinos in recent U.S. history.

“I think we all were, because of the color of our skin,” Jurado said.

Twenty-three people were killed in the shooting. The man charged in the attack allegedly wrote a 2,356-word white supremacist rant before the shooting and posted it to the online message board 8chan, which carries a reputation for being a breeding ground for white supremacy.

The now 22-year-old from Allen, Texas, decried an “invasion” by immigrants to the United States in the post. He cited a 2011 French book by Renaud Camus called “The Great Replacement,” which promoted a conspiracy theory that the “white race” was being replaced by nonwhite, or non-European, people.

Those sort of racist ideas can emerge from changing demographics in a country where Hispanics accounted for more than half the nation’s population growth from 2010 to 2019, according to the Pew Research Center.

“When you have a few people of color, the community is not seen so much as a threat,” said Maria Cristina Morales, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “But the more that the population grows – the population of Latinos grow for instance – the more fear that there’s going to be a loss of power.”

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-El Paso, was holding a town hall in her hometown the day of the shooting. The freshman congresswoman, less than a year into her first term, had just responded to a question about conditions for migrants at the southern border when the microphone was removed from her hand. After a few moments, Escobar announced there was an active shooter at Walmart.

In the days that followed, President Donald Trump visited El Paso. The trip was met with criticism by many in El Paso, including political leaders who told him to stay away. Some victims and their families refused to meet with the president. 

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