Jordan Anchondo, 25, and her husband Andre Anchondo, 24, were shopping for school supplies for their 5-year-old daughter when gunfire erupted, Jordan’s aunt Elizabeth Terry told CNN.
At that point, Jordan shielded her baby while Andre shielded his wife, Jordan’s father Paul Jamrowski told the Today show.
“[Andre] shielded her and she shielded the baby, and that’s how he was able to survive,” Jamrowski said.
The shooting left three young children orphaned. Relative Tito Anchondo launched a GoFundMe page for the children that described the heroism of the parents and said, “Not only did Jordan & Andre love each other endlessly, but the children were so loved by them as well.”
NBC, citing the family, reports Andre was excited about being a dad to a baby again.
Terry described Jordan as “the epitome of love” and “a selfless mother.”
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Calls to police about an active shooter at the Cielo Vista Mall came in at 10:39 a.m. and first responders arrived six minutes later, El Paso Police Chief Greg Allen said Saturday. The store was reportedly at capacity during the busy back-to-school shopping season, with as many as 3,000 people inside, according to multiple reports.
Patrick Crusius, 21, of Allen, Texas, a Dallas suburb more than 600 miles from El Paso, is the suspect, a law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the investigation tells PEOPLE. Police said the suspect drove about 10 hours to the site of the shooting and surrendered to police without incident.
Allen said the shooting “has a nexus at this point in time to a hate crime.” The source close to the investigation said authorities were looking at a manifesto with white nationalist themes the suspect is believed to have written.
At a Sunday press conference, El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza said the suspect is being charged with capital murder and that prosecutors will seek the death penalty, CNN reports.
US Attorney John Bash said authorities will bring federal hate and firearms charges.
“We are treating it as a domestic terrorism case, and we’re gonna do what we do to terrorists in this country, which is deliver swift and certain justice,” Bash said.
Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said three Mexican citizens were killed in the shooting. The Mexican government said six others were wounded.
Saturday’s shooting took place four days after a “disgruntled employee” fatally shot two colleagues at a Mississippi Walmart before being wounded by a responding officer and taken into custody.
Less than 24 hours after the El Paso shooting, nine people were killed and 26 were injured when a shooter opened fire on the streets of a popular nightlife area in Dayton, Ohio.