A widower whose wife died in the El Paso shooting earlier this month was left awe-struck after hundreds of strangers travelled to Texas to attend her funeral service.
Antonio Basco was heartbroken and alone after his companion of 22 years Margie Reckard, 63, was killed in the massacre.
Reckard was an employee of the Walmart, where she and 21 others were killed and more than two dozen were injured when a gunman opened fire on August 3rd.
Margie only had a few relatives to attend the service so Basco welcomed anyone to attend in a post on Facebook that would quickly go viral.
Mr Basco thought he would largely be by himself but arrived to throngs of people shouting blessings in English and Spanish as they braved 100-degree heat to pay their respects to a woman whom they've never met.
“His story moved me,” said Jordan Ballard, 38, who travelled from Los Angeles.
The service was moved from a funeral home to La Paz Faith Memorial & Spiritual Centre to accommodate the crowd.
Vocalists and musicians volunteered to help, including a mariachi band. Condolences and orders for flowers poured in.
“I love y’all, man,” Mr Basco said, before breaking down.
As the line swelled, Mr Basco came back out to thank attendees personally for coming.
Mr Basco appeared overwhelmed that strangers were now running towards him to show love and offer condolences for his wife.
Moments later, mariachis walked through the crowd singing Amor Eterno, the 1984 ballad by the late Juan Gabriel, that has become an anthem for El Paso following the shooting.
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Jason Medina, 42, of El Paso, said he had to come. Wearing a black and red suit, Mr Medina stood quietly in line and waited for his chance to say goodbye to someone he never knew. “I know her now,” Mr Medina said. “We’re all family.”
Mr Johnson, who is also a pastor, headed the service. Funeral home staff urged attendees to be patient as people began rotating in and out of the service amid scorching heat.
Ms Reckard had children from a previous marriage who travelled from out of town to the funeral.
But Mr Johnson said that for Mr Basco, Ms Reckard was “his life, his soul mate, his best friend.”
On Tuesday, a post on Facebook showed a photo of a bereft Mr Basco kneeling by a candlelight memorial.
The post welcomed anyone to attend Ms Reckard’s funeral and soon drew thousands of comments and shares.
Her son, Harry Dean Reckard, told The New York Times that when he and his brother and sister were children, the family did not have much money and frequently moved.
He said his mother would sometimes work at fast food restaurants or as a hotel housekeeper to add to what her husband earned as a truck driver.
He said that after his father died in 1995, his mother began a relationship with Mr Basco.
The couple had moved to El Paso a few years ago. He said his mother, who had been battling Parkinson’s disease, “was loved by many”.