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Walmart’s Grand Candela lacks 23rd column; some names missing from plaques

EL PASO, Texas -- The Grand Candela Memorial, it stands just feet away from the entrance to the Cielo Vista Walmart -- where 23 lives were stolen, dozens more injured and countless others impacted forever.

Back in November 2019, just a few months after that horrific day, that Walmart store reopened and the Grand Candela was unveiled as a permanent memorial to the victims of the Aug. 3 mass shooting.

At the time, 22 columns rose from the ground representing the 22 lives lost back then.

But tragically, El Paso lost one more life five months later on April 25, 2020: Coach Memo Garcia.

Now, more than a year since Garcia's death, the Grand Candela remains unchanged - still with 22 columns.

Garcia's best friend and fellow coach, Luis Calvillo - whose dad was also killed that day, believes something should've been done.

"None of us were expecting for Coach Memo to pass away. We had our hopes up. For Walmart not to do anything about it yet, it's been a year, it seems that we're missing that one person that unfortunately passed and we have to give him the right memorial for him as well," Calvillo said.

ABC-7 reached out to Walmart, which created the Grand Candela, and received this reply: "As we have over the last two years, we continue to do our best to ensure we respect the wishes of all that were affected by this tragedy by honoring and remembering them in the most appropriate way," said spokeswoman Lauren Willis.

A source with knowledge of the project told ABC-7 that in order to add a 23rd pillar, Walmart would have to tear the entire structure down and rebuild it. The source added that Walmart chose not to do that at this time fearing that tearing it down could have a detrimental impact on the community.

But something has changed since the memorial was first unveiled.

The center plaque, which references the 22 columns, is now sandwiched between two other plaques. They include the names of the victims, but not all of them.

There are 23 spaces, however only 17 names are etched into the name plates; the remaining six spaces instead have a dove occupying the space.

When ABC-7 asked Walmart why those six names are missing, the retail giant referred the question to the El Paso District Attorney's victim assistance office.

But the DA's spokesperson told ABC-7 that "the district attorney's office has not been contacted by Walmart; Walmart owns the property. However, the DA's office continues to work with the victims of the August 3 shooting with whatever assistance they may need."

A source with knowledge of the situation told ABC-7 that the reason for the six missing names on the plaques at the Grand Candela is because those families did not give Walmart consent to include their loved ones' names.

Article Topic Follows: El Paso

Erik Elken

Erik Elken co-anchors ABC-7’s flagship newscasts.

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