Odessans Try To Make Sense Of Violence In An Otherwise Friendly City

Many residents are from elsewhere, moving there to work in the oilfields. But they say it’s a place where strangers say “hello.”

By Camile PhillipsSeptember 4, 2019 7:13 am, , ,

From Texas Public Radio:

A line of white crosses dot an empty lot on an otherwise busy road in south Odessa. Since they went up on Tuesday, somber groups of visitors trickled in. They quietly left flowers, balloons and wrote words of encouragement on the crosses in permanent marker. A man in a blue cotton work shirt moves slowly from cross to cross, laying his hands on each one.

“I hurt for these people,” says Eddie Pesquale

The 61-year-old says he prayed for each victim and their families.

“I’m a grandfather. I’m raising grandchildren. This — it should not be. It should not be anywhere, not just here. It should not be anywhere,” he says.

This is the fourth mass shooting in Texas in less than two years. In fact, these crosses were built by the same person who created similar memorials after the shootings in Sutherland Springs, Santa Fe and, just a month ago, in El Paso.

Pesquale says divided opinions about guns and gun control stifle real conversations.

“We’ve got to talk about this. We’ve got to find out what is wrong, what is happening. I’m not going to say it’s a gun problem. I’m not going to say it’s a mentally ill problem. I’m going to say it’s a bunch of problems that are tied up into one,” he says.

Like many in the oil-rich Permian Basin, Pesquale moved to West Texas to work in the oilfields. The California native says that was 35 years ago; he fell in love with this place.

“I could not believe you could find Utopia in the desert,” he says.

Odessa, he says, is a welcoming, family-oriented town. He’ll never forget the first time a stranger waved at him in the store.