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Photos: El Paso marks Walmart shooting anniversary amid pandemic
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Photos: El Paso marks Walmart shooting anniversary amid pandemic

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When Stephanie Melendez, her husband and two young daughters tested positive for the coronavirus, the person she most wanted to call was her father.

"I'm married. I have my family. He was still the one I called when I got sick and he'd bring me Gatorade," said Melendez, 32. "So when we get this virus that's been all over the news — oh — my dad's not there for me to call. It just kind of hits home a little harder."

Her father, David Johnson, was shielding his wife and granddaughter when a gunman who authorities say was targeting Latinos at a crowded Walmart in the Texas border city of El Paso fatally shot him and 22 other people. It was a shockingly violent weekend in the U.S., with another shooter hours later killing nine people in a popular nightlife area in Dayton, Ohio.

Events to mark the anniversary of the Aug. 3, 2019, shooting in El Paso, a largely Hispanic city of 700,000, have taken on a new look amid the coronavirus pandemic: parks lit with lanterns that people can walk or drive through; private tours for victims' families at a museum exhibit of items preserved from a makeshift memorial; and residents being asked to show support with online posts.

A service for victims' relatives held Sunday in a sprawling park allowed for social distancing. "We can't allow a shooter to define who we are, and we're not going to allow a virus to define who El Paso is," Samaniego said.

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Stengle contributed from Dallas, Attanasio from Santa Fe, N.M. Associated Press writers Morgan Lee in Santa Fe, N.M., Astrid Galvan in Phoenix, and Jake Bleiberg in Dallas contributed to this report.

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