Nayeli Coronado took her Hallsville ISD children back-to-school shopping Friday at a Longview Walmart.
She was wary of her surroundings, aware that 22 people died in a rain of bullets at an El Paso Walmart this past Saturday, but the mission was important. Police have said the El Paso shooter was targeting Hispanic shoppers, and his bullets figuratively glanced East Texans following the annual school supply shopping ritual.
“Everything is bueno,” Coronado said. “Everything, everything is good. Walmart is awesome.”
Children Alondra, Judy and Manuel Coronado, ages 17, 12 and 7 respectively, were in tow, along with baby sister Claudia Coronado. So their mother said she kept an eye on her surroundings throughout the shopping trip.
“Oh, sí. When you know what happened in El Paso is why,” she said. “I was asking my baby this morning, ‘I don’t want to go to Walmart.’ But I need to go ... for school supplies.”
Walmart parking lots on Fourth Street, where the Coronados shopped, and on Gilmer Road looked typical for the opening day of Texas’ tax-free holiday weekend, which ends at midnight Sunday.
With her son, Kevin Pantoja, translating, shopper Adriana Medina of Diana indicated she had overcome some reluctance to shop. But the mother had to equip Kevin, 14, and his 11-year-old brother, Gerardo Pantoja, for a new school year.
“She’s a little bit scared by what’s happening in the news,” Kevin said. “But, it’s something she needs to do, get the school supplies. But she was a little bit scared.”
Medina put her husband, Gerardo Pantoja, on the phone so he could answer the same question.
“Yeah, I’m worried,” the father and namesake of his youngest boy said. “Because my family has to buy groceries and school supplies, and I know anything can happen. The way things are going on in the world, anything can happen.”
Shoppers filled the Walmart parking lot in Mount Pleasant, too.
“No, no. It’s good,” Janet Chavez of Mount Pleasant said in Spanish after she and her four children, ages 2 to 18, loaded their car after shopping. “It’s very bad for Hispanic people and all the people — everybody.”
Maria Cardenas, speaking through her son, Josue Julian Vega, 12, said the tax holiday provided extra incentive to load up for school and home shopping.
“Yes, I will always be scared of things like that (shooting),” the Mexican national said, her U.S. citizen children at her side. “We needed to get some supplies for school, and since today is no taxes, it’s so much better to buy groceries and other supplies for school that we need.”
Irma del Carmen’s daughter, Xochil McGee, said the sales tax holiday drew the Mount Pleasant family to their hometown Walmart.
“Yes, it helped us. It’s a relief,” McGee said, brothers Johnny and Caleb, 14 and 15, climbing into the family minivan. “She said she was scared, with all the stuff that happened at Walmart and all the shootings. It was hard to come, a little, but there was a need for back-to-school shopping.”