Hundreds of strangers braved 100-degree Texas heat on Friday to pay respects to a woman they had never met, but had died tragically in the El Paso shooting, leaving behind only her longtime companion.
Margie Reckard, 63, was one of the 22 victims who were killed during the Walmart shooting earlier this month.
Her heartbroken partner of 22 years, Antonio Basco, invited the public to her funeral services, saying he had no direct relatives or family members.
The response to the invitation was unimaginable.
On Friday morning, hundreds of people from all over the country – including from Dayton, Ohio, the site of a mass shooting less than a day after the attack in El Paso – filled up the La Paz Faith Memorial & Spiritual Center. A line snaked around the church and on the blocks beyond.
“I arrived here this morning,” Jordan Ballard, a 38-year-old Los Angeles resident who bought a plane ticket after learning of the Texas man’s invitation. “His story moved me.”
Alicia Solomon Clark, a professional singer from Santa Fe, N.M., drove six hours and stood in the visitation line for two hours because she had a message for Basco.
“I am here to tell Mr. Basco for every crazy but there are thousands of us that love him,” the 61-year-old told the New York Times.
A Buzzfeed reporter tweeted that there were more than 700 people in attendance.
When Basco arrived, people shouted blessings in English and Spanish. Before entering the funeral home, someone gave him a gift that appeared to be an El Paso t-shirt.
“I love y’all, man,” he said, before breaking down.
As the line continued to swell, Basco came back out to thank attendees personally for coming. He appeared overwhelmed that strangers were running toward him to show love and offer condolences.
"This is amazing," he said, according to the Times.
Moments later, mariachis walked through the crowd singing "Amor Eterno," the 1984 ballad by the late Juan Gabriel, which has become an anthem for El Paso following the shooting. Some attendees sang along. Others sobbed and got out of line.
Reckard had children from a previous marriage who traveled from out of town to the funeral with their children.
Her oldest son, Dean, 48, described her as loving and kind.
“She would have been overwhelmed to see all the love El Paso showed her,” he told the New York Times.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.