After shooting, officials talk safety


State Capitol Highlights

AUSTIN — Following the Aug. 3 shooting that claimed the lives of 22 people and injured 24 others at a popular El Paso shopping venue, Gov. Greg Abbott and a group of officials met in that city to discuss ways to address violence.

Joined by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, state Sen. Jose Rodriguez, and area state Reps. Cesar Blanco, Art Fierro, Mary Gonzales, Joe Moody and Lina Ortega, Abbott and the group talked about how to improve public safety.

“The entire state of Texas continues to grieve the tragedy in El Paso,” Abbott said. “While our hearts remain broken, it is our responsibility to show the resolve that is needed to address this shooting and begin the process of working together to lay a groundwork of how we are going to respond.”

Sen. Rodríguez, in a statement on behalf of the El Paso legislative delegation, said: “We all agreed that gun violence and white nationalism are pressing issues. Gov. Abbott, in his remarks, was frank about calling the shooter a white supremacist and his actions domestic terrorism.”

Abbott announced the state would provide more than $5 million in immediate financial assistance through the Criminal Justice Division of the Governor’s Public Safety Office for law enforcement agencies and the community of El Paso.

According to a governor’s office news release, the financial assistance will take these forms:

• Psychological first aid and crisis counseling;

• Behavioral health services, including needs assessments, strategic planning and care coordination with local service providers;

• County reimbursements for expert witness and juror fees, investigation, increased security and more;

• School-based mental health services to support students affected directly or indirectly and referrals for youths with certain behavioral health and psychological needs;

• Post-critical incident seminars, emphasizing peer support to assist first responders suffering from traumatic stress; and

• The establishment of a “family resiliency center” to be a focal point for community services including mental health needs, legal services, faith-based assistance and public information.