Hundreds answer husband's viral post to attend funeral of El Paso mass shooting victim

Aaron Montes

Antonio Basco sat beside his late wife Margie Reckard's light brown casket. He buried his face in his hands and sobbed. 

Across from him, Reckard's grandson Tyler fell into the embrace of family as he was overwhelmed with emotion. 

Reckard was Basco's "angel," his only family, his wife. Every day they spent together was a blessing, he said. Their time together ended Aug. 3 when she was killed during a rampage seemingly fueled by hate. An alleged shooter, a 21-year old white male from a Dallas-area neighborhood drove to an El Paso Walmart to kill Hispanics, according to a police affidavit. With a legally purchased assault rifle, he killed 22 and injured 25.

Antonio Basco places his hand on the casket of his wife Margie Reckard during her prayer service Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. at La Paz Faith Center in El Paso, Texas. She was one of the 22 people killed in the Walmart mass shooting on Aug. 3, 2019.

Left without her, Basco remains uncertain of his near future but has found support from his community. With no other family, he called for the community to join him in saying goodbye.

They answered.

During a prayer service for Reckard at La Paz Faith Center in Central El Paso, Basco was engulfed in love and support. The packed church holds about 500 and there was about triple that number outside. Flowers for Reckard came from all over the world.

He entered the center to applause as he made his way around the pews. Hugged by many, he smiled.

Bishop Harrison Johnson of the  Praise Temple Full Gospel Baptist Church said, look at all the friends you have, which El Pasoans clapped and cheered, some shouting, "we care."

An El Pasoan pins a flower to the shirt of Antonio Basco at a prayer service Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, for his wife Margie Reckard at La Paz Faith Center in El Paso, Texas. His wife was one of the 22 people killed in the Walmart mass shooting on Aug. 3, 2019.

"El Paso, we can't stop walking through the storm," Johnson said. "This will not define us. Be strong in the lord."

Reckard's family from Nebraska made their way to Friday's service. They were also hugged and welcomed by the community as attendees walked into the center.

Martha Miller, who is part of Reckard's extended family, said, "I've never had so many people welcome like this before." 

"This is just amazing," Miller said.

Quickly, a line formed out of the center's doors as thousands continued to attend the service. Some waiting two hours in line.

The line wrapped around the building and up into the neighborhood. Residents drove all around looking for parking. 

Family of Margie Reckard react after arriving at La Paz Faith Center in El Paso, Texas, for her services Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. Reckard was one of the 22 killed people in the mass shooting at Walmart on Aug. 3, 2019.

"We may not feel his complete loss, but we're with him," said El Paso native Rosie Armendariz, who waited in line. "It shows how much love we have."

"This might be a glimpse of heaven," El Pasoan Linda Misenhimer said of the service. "I can only imagine."

The La Paz Faith Center had a sweet floral fragrance stemming from the 500 orders of flowers from all over the world. Reckard's service was peppered with the flowers from Norway, Australia and from all over the United States. 

Salvador Perches, the owner of Perches Funeral Home, said the number of people who attended the service and the amount of flowers were overwhelming. He did not expect to see so many people attend the service, he added.  

Follow Aaron Montes on Twitter: @aaronmontes91

This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: Hundreds say goodbye to El Paso Walmart mass shooting victim