When another shooting massacre occurs in the United States, for almost all of us, it’s geographically far away and not right at our doorstep.
But for Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones, the horror of Saturday’s massacre in El Paso, Texas, hits home.
‘I kind of grew up in that neighborhood’
A fifth-round draft pick in 2017, Jones graduated from El Paso’s Burges High. Reporter Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel chatted with Jones in the wake of the shooting and discovered that Jones is very familiar with the area where the shooting occurred.
“I kind of grew up in that neighborhood,” he said.
Burges High is mere steps from the Walmart and Cielo Vista Mall where Patrick Crusius allegedly opened fire, killing 22 (two more victims were reported dead on Monday morning), and Jones frequented both.
He continued to shop there, as he still lives in El Paso in the NFL offseason.
Jones said he couldn’t believe it when he heard what had happened, and quickly started checking on family and friends.
“My parents were here [in Green Bay], luckily. My girlfriend was on her way here when it happened. My brother is in Baltimore [Alvin Jones is a Ravens linebacker],” he said. “The only people I have, my godparents are there, my aunt and uncle and my girlfriend’s family. Everybody is good.”
Still, Jones has looked at the names of the victims, wondering if he knew any of those killed.
Struggling with the news
When he was younger, Jones’ family moved around a fair amount — both of his parents spent over 25 years in the Army — but they settled in El Paso, and both Aaron and Alvin played for Texas-El Paso in college.
The city has become home, and Aaron is struggling with the news.
“I was like, ‘Wow, if I weren’t in training camp, who knows?,’” he said. “Luckily, nobody I’m related to was injured, but I’m always at that Walmart. It’s crazy to think that something like that could happen in your city.”
On Saturday Jones tweeted, “Prayers going up for El Paso and everyone involved. It saddens me that some thing like this would happen in our city.”
‘It takes your breath away’
Like many from El Paso, Jones noted the community’s closeness.
Crusius allegedly drove hours from his home outside Dallas to El Paso, near the Mexico border, to carry out his hate-fueled, anti-immigrant plan.
“El Paso is a close-knit community,” Jones said. “The funeral homes have already offered to handle the costs. People are already lined up donating blood. They had to send some people home, telling them to come back tomorrow. So, everybody is like behind each other.
“It takes your breath away. It’s really sad. It’s not even somebody from El Paso, [it's] somebody who drove 10 hours just to do a hate crime. He definitely came for a purpose.”
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