Over the weekend, at least 31 people were killed in mass shootings that happened in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio. The Taylor community came together Monday to pray for the victims and their families.
"Praying is part of the healing process. That's where we need to begin," said Robert Garcia. "What happens after the healing and grieving process, then that's what needs to take place to address this type of senseless violence."
About 30 people attended the event at Heritage Square to pray for the victims of the shootings. The group prayed for peace and took 31 seconds of silence for all of the victims.
"All politics were taken out of it, it was just prayer, repentance and the fact that prayer needs to be put back into all of our decisions," Garcia said.
On Sunday, Garcia was contacted by Yolanda Palomarez to organize an event to pray for the nation.
“The nation needs prayer,” said Pastor Jeff Ripple. “Thirty-one people died over the weekend with both shootings, but in Chicago that may happen twice as much in one weekend.”
He said even though the prayer event is over, the prayers should not stop.
“I encourage people to continue to pray. Pray in homes and work places. Silent prayers work too,” Ripple said. “Sin is our problem, not mental illness. Sin is our problem. Apathy is the greatest sin that the nation is guilty of.”
Garcia said although the shootings did not happen in Taylor, locals still feel the pain and grief that the victims’ families do.
"They may not be from Taylor, but they are all close to our hearts," he said. "When one family or one area is effected by this senseless violence, then it truly effects all of us."
Ripple said shootings happen every day, and he believes God is the world’s only hope.
“We’re not going to be saved by politicians or laws. People have to choose to stop being evil,” he said.
Garcia said that these types of situations can happen in any city, no matter the size.
"Don't ever think that this won't happen here," he said. "Every shooting that has happened, people may have thought it couldn't happen there."
Garcia believes that everyone should be aware of their surroundings and speak up if they see possible threats of danger.
"As a whole, we just need to be vigilant as a community. If we see something, we need to say something," he said. "It's better to be safe than to have an incident like this happen."
On Saturday in El Paso, the gunman, Patrick Crusius, 21, walked into a Walmart and opened fire. As a result, 22 people died, and many others were wounded.
According to media reports, Crusius posted a four-page manifesto filled with white supremacist language and racist hatred aimed at immigrants and Latinos. He drove 10 to 11 hours from Allen, a suburb of Dallas, to El Paso where he carried out the shooting.
On Sunday morning, Connor Betts, 24, opened fire outside of a Dayton, Ohio bar and killed nine people, including his sister. He fired 41 shots in less than 30 seconds before he was fatally shot by police officers.
According to media reports, Betts had a history of hit lists, violent threats and a fascination with shootings. Officers have yet to established a motive.