ODESSA/MIDLAND, TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — A message of strength permeated a community prayer service in Odessa Sunday night, one day after a mass shooting claimed the lives of seven victims.
Tears rolled down faces among the thousands in attendance.
Mothers hugged their sons tightly. Friends tried to make sense of losing someone they said was a loving person to everyone.
The mayors of Odessa and Midland, along with a number of community pastors, spoke during the service on the UT Permian Basin campus.
The applause from the crowd in recognition of the job done by first responders, was rivaled only by applause when Odessa Mayor David Turner told the crowd how two local police officers ended the rampage.
“They rammed his car, stopped him and when he got out, they shot him dead,” Turner said.
Pastors encouraged those in attendance to find their peace in the service.
Father David Herrera told them not to look for answers, but instead look at actions in response.
But for mothers like Megan Ellis, who kept her son Hunter close during the event, there’s no peace to be found yet.
“No, people are dead, people are injured,” Ellis said. “No, we’re never going to get what we want out of this. People passed away on our streets, for no reason.”
With the phrase “Permian Basin Strong” printed on t-shirts around the event, a trio of friends stood to the side of the stage, holding a small sign that replaced “Permian” with the name “Leila.”
Their classmate, Leila Hernandez, was one of the seven people killed. They cried, still struggling to understand how someone they could always go to, is now gone.
“She was there for you whenever you needed it,” said Austin Reyes, a friend of hers. “[If] you needed somebody to talk to, she’d be there. She’d make you laugh when you’d be down.”