Memorial event for shooting victims cancelled

A memorial event scheduled for Aug. 31 at UTPB to pay tribute to the victims of a horrific 2019 mass shooting in Odessa has been canceled due to COVID-19, organizers announced on Monday.

Organizers were also forced to cancel the event in 2020 due to COVID, said Odessa Arts Executive Director Randy Ham.

“Before the recent COVID outbreak, several agencies came together to do a tribute,” Ham said. “With the rise in COVID numbers, we all felt an abundance of caution was called for.”

The decision to again cancel the tribute was a difficult one, Ham said. Due to COVID, the Odessa community has not yet had a chance to come together to mourn and celebrate the lives of those that were lost.

The community has not yet had an opportunity to find closure, Ham said.

Several tributes are still moving forward, including plans to put up flags at Memorial Gardens on Aug. 31, and the City of Odessa has agreed to create two videos honoring the victims and their loved ones, Ham said. The Odessa Spire will also be lit yellow for the remainder of August in remembrance of those who were killed.

On Aug. 31, 2019, 7 people were killed and 25 people injured, including a 17-month-old girl, before the shooter, Seth Aaron Ator, 36, of Odessa, was gunned down by police outside a movie theater.

The victims included Rodolfo Julio Arco, 57, Mary Granados, 29, Leilah Hernandez, 15, Joseph Griffith, 40, and Edwin Peregrino, 25 – all from Odessa. Also killed were Raul Garcia, 35, of El Paso and Kameron Karltess Brown, 30, of Brownwood.