Odessa Mayor David Turner says the aftermath of the recent mass shooting in his city has been quite difficult. He says community members are still in shock, but have also jumped into action to support each other.
“Some people were angry; you just run the gamut of the emotions. But the thing that really inspires me most are the stories that are coming out about citizen helping citizen,” Turner says.
Local and non-local businesses are also pitching in. A local funeral home has paid for funerals of all of the shooting victims. And he says United Airlines is flying families to the area for free to attend those funerals.
After the shooting, Gov. Greg Abbott visited the University of Texas Permian Basin, where he said that Texas must take action given the frequency of these shootings. “There is no issue we will not look at,” he said during a press conference. Turner says from his perspective, there needs to be a multifaceted approach.
For one thing, he says “we need stronger mental-health laws.”
News outlets have reported that the shooter “was on a long spiral of going down,” but it’s unclear whether his actions were the result of mental health issues or even a mental illness. According to the American Psychological Association, “Only a very small percentage of violent acts are committed by people who are diagnosed with, or in treatment for, mental illness.”
If someone poses a threat to themselves or others, Turner says state law makes it hard to stop such a person in a moment of distress.
“You can hold them for 24, 48 hours, and then you have to release them,” he says. “That is something that’s gonna have to be addressed.”
At one point, the shooter failed a background check when he tried to purchase a gun. But Turner says he’s troubled that the shooter was still able to acquire one later.
Turner is asking for prayers for victims still in the hospital, some of whom aren’t locals and likely came to the area because of the oil boom, he says.
He also says Abbott has “offered the full resources of the state” to help with the city’s recovery. In one example, he and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have shut down fraudulent GoFundMe campaigns claiming to raise money for shooting victims.
On Monday, Abbott tweeted that he’s considering legislation for “expedited executions” for those who commit mass murder. Turner says he’s still learning about how to respond to this kind of crime, but he’s inclined to agree with Abbott.
“I’m glad we don’t have to spend tax dollars to go through the courts,” Turner says. “That may sound very callous but when you’ve stood beside the officers who have bullet holes in their arms … I’m mad as hell.”
He urges state lawmakers to come up with an effective solution.
“I leave my faith in them because right now, I’ve got everything that I can handle taking care of my citizens,” Turner says.
Written by Caroline Covington.