A man who invited the public to attend his wife’s funeral after she was killed in the El Paso shooting was overwhelmed to see hundreds queuing to pay their respects.
61-year-old Antonio Basco was married to 63-year-old Margie Reckard for 22 years before she lost her life in the August 3 attack, which left 22 innocent people dead and many more injured.
The widower welcomed anyone to attend his wife’s service, which was set to take place yesterday (August 16) at Perches Funeral Home in El Paso, as he had no other relatives in the area who could attend.
Antonio expected the church to be quiet and almost empty, so he was blown away to find the building at capacity, with 400 mourners inside and almost 700 more queued alongside the church and all the way down the road, CNN report.
The crowd was so huge the funeral company had to move the service to a larger facility.
People travelled from far and wide to honour Margie, including a San Francisco woman named Hala Hijazi.
People are showing up in El Paso to support Antonio Basco who’s burying his wife Margie, today. She was 1 of 22 people killed in the WalMart massacre. Antonio says he doesn’t have family so he invited the public. @hkhijazi just arrived from San Francisco. She sent me this video. pic.twitter.com/od35l1rsbV
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) August 16, 2019
In a video shared on Twitter, Hala said:
When I read the story of Tony Basco and his deep love for his wife and his equal grief for his loss, it pierced into my heart and soul and made me book a flight to El Paso.
We need to show when America is in pain, we are all in pain.
As well as hundreds of attendees, Antonio was met with about 900 floral arrangements which were sent from as far afield as Asia, the New York Times report, as per the BBC. Over 1,000 people have also donated to a GoFundMe campaign to help Antonio with expenses, raising more than $32,000.
There was standing-room only at the funeral, which included singing and a mariachi band.
According to CNN, Dean Reckard, Margie’s son from another marriage, said his mother ‘loved everyone regardless of colour, religion or politics’.
Speaking of the service, he said:
Everywhere I look, I just see all these flowers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many flowers.
Antonio was greeted with applause as he walked into the La Paz Faith Memorial and Spiritual Center, where the funeral ended up being held. He described the turnout as ‘incredible’.
Dean said his mother had been ‘extremely happy’ with Antonio and described the 61-year-old as being ‘unbelievable’ for Margie.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677
Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.