Clark County officials lend hand with El Paso’s Family Assistance Center


John Locher / AP

Gloria Garces kneels in front of crosses at a makeshift memorial near the scene of a mass shooting at a shopping complex Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. The border city jolted by a weekend massacre at a Walmart absorbed more grief Monday as the death toll climbed and prepared for a visit from President Donald Trump over anger from El Paso residents and local Democratic leaders who say he isn’t welcome and should stay away.

Tue, Aug 6, 2019 (6:45 p.m.)

Three days after El Paso, Texas, joined the growing list of American communities fractured by gunmen in mass casualty horrors, Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg was on an airplane headed to the border city.

On Tuesday, Fudenberg flew to El Paso, where he is joined by Clark County Deputy Fire Chief John Steinbeck and Ryan Turner, Henderson’s division chief of emergency management and safety.

The Southern Nevadans — who were instrumental in the healing process after the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting — are helping El Paso officials set up the Family Assistance Center in the city’s downtown convention center, said Clark County spokesman Erik Pappa. The model is similar to one set up in Las Vegas after that massacre — it later transitioned to the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center.

A gunman on Saturday morning unleashed bullets on shoppers at a busy Walmart, killing at least 22 and wounding a couple dozen more. Hours later, another mass shooter killed nine people in a bar district in Dayton, Ohio.

El Paso’s Family Assistance Center opened Tuesday. It will offer counseling, health care assistance, travel, financial and legal support as well as language transition. The suspect allegedly targeted Hispanics in the city where they make up more than 80 percent of the population.

The center is also “a space to begin healing after the tragic and senseless act of violence we experienced over the weekend,” said El Paso officials in a news release.

When a gunman indiscriminately killed 58 victims and wounded hundreds more at the Route 91 Harvest festival, officials from cities such as Orlando, Florida, came here to assist with the implementation of an assistance center. Orlando was victimized by a shooter that killed 49 victims at the Pulse Nightclub in the summer of 2016.

No two shootings are alike, Pappa said, but some of the lessons officials learned after Oct. 1, 2017, might be useful at the border.

It wasn’t clear when the Southern Nevada officials would head back home.

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