0512 GMT November 22, 2019
Juan de Dios, 77, and Estela, 65, were about to enter the store to buy groceries, just like any normal day, when shots rang out, according to their niece Norma Ramos, Reuters reported.
He threw himself in front of his wife.
“He was arriving at the store when he was shot at close range and the bullet passed through him and hit my aunt Estela,” Ramos told Reuters in a phone interview from Ciudad Juarez, where she lives.
“Because he protected her, he took shots in his back,” said Ramos, who said she had heard the account of the shooting from other family members who were able to speak with the couple.
Juan de Dios has already had several surgeries at the Del Sol Medical Center in El Paso but still may need more because the bullet punctured his organs, Ramos said.
Estela, who was hit in the stomach, was also operated on and is now stable. The medical center did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Saturday’s rampage — which killed 20 people, including seven Mexicans — appeared to be a hate crime. Police have cited a manifesto they attributed to the suspect, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius, as evidence that the bloodshed was racially motivated.
El Paso is a heavily Latino city on the US-Mexico border that has a long history of attracting Mexicans to settle with their families a short distance from their home towns, or simply to visit for weekend shopping sprees.
Officials in Mexico City have released the names of the seven Mexicans who were killed in the attack, most of whom were from border states.