Things That Matter

5-Year-Old Girl Who Lost Her Parents In El Paso Mass Shooting Asks: ‘Is he going to come and shoot me?’

A 5-year-old girl’s mother was shot and killed this past weekend during the El Paso, Texas mass shooting and now she’s left wondering whether she’ll be next. Skylin Jamrowski lost both her stepfather and her mother during the El Paso massacre that left at least 22 people dead. After she was given the devastating news she asked, “Is he going to come and shoot me?”

That’s a question you never want to hear anyone ask. Let alone a young child. 

According to CNN, who spoke to the family of her deceased parents, the 5-year-old asked her grandmother if her father had died following the news of the shooting. 

For hours, the family didn’t know whether Skylin’s parents had survived the shooting. 

Skylin has a younger sister, Victoria, and a baby brother, Paul Gilbert, 2 months old. She’s the eldest of the three. According to reports, the baby miraculously survived when his mother, Jordan Anchondo, protected and shielded him with her body when the gunman shot her. Their father, Andre Anchondo, died the same way when he tried to protect both Jordan and the two-month-old baby. 

Relatives of the family told CNN that “the shooter had aimed at Jordan [and] Andre jumped in front of Jordan. And the shooter shot Andre, and the bullets went through Andre and hit Jordan.” 

Now, three young children and the rest of the Anchondo family are left to mourn the death of Jordan and Andre at the hands of a gunman who was motivated by racism in the slaying of at least 22 people. 

Skylin who is seemingly old enough to comprehend what happened to a certain extent is also left to deal with the trauma of losing both of her parents at such a young age and also left with knowing the brutal way in which they were killed.

Andre and Jordan Anchondo’s parents also told CNN that Skylin was not with them at the Walmart when the shooting occurred because she was at cheerleading class. Her parents had gone to Walmart, like many of the victims, to shop for school supplies for Skylin’s first day of kindergarten. But despite her not witnessing her parents lose their lives, the effects of trauma will still linger. 

ABC News, who looked into how communities recover from mass shooting trauma, spoke to Robin Gurwitch on the after-effects of a harrowing incident like this. The professor of psychiatry at Duke University, who studies how children process trauma and disasters, said that mass shootings can impact individuals and communities differently and always require specific responses to get past the trauma. 

The psychiatrist told ABC News, “When you mix death and trauma together, it becomes particularly hard. The mourning, the bereavement, as well as the trauma can make it particularly difficult for survivors.”

Despite Skylin and her younger siblings having a strong support system to raise them and be there for them after the death of their parents, her grandparents believe that “the sad thing is, is that even with all of us… it’s Mom and Dad. We can’t replace Mom and Dad. It’s just something you can’t replace.” 

According to Gurwitch, though, it’s still extremely important and positive to have this strong support system around them. Children who survived or witnessed mass shootings need to be able to see these examples of resiliency and positivity in order to not lose sight of these qualities for themselves. 

“We need to make sure that adults provide good role models. So even if we are anxious and worried and upset, that we can present to our children that we can cope with this, that we will get through this,” Gurwitch tells ABC News

The American Psychological Association also states that long-term outcomes for survivors, witnesses, and those who have been affected by mass shootings are improved with the help of community connections. 

The topic of how children and students cope with the trauma of mass shootings after bearing witness to them or after surviving them has become a prominent topic of discussions after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting–which left 17 dead.

Since mass shootings began to happen in school’s, affecting teens and the like, active shooter drills have become a lot more commonplace. But experts say that high-tech surveillance, tactical gear, and live drills are actually doing more harm than good. According to an article on Medium, active shooter drills can also be traumatizing for students.  After the El Paso shooting, some schools across the country have also responded by holding active shooter drills (one occurred in a high school in Costa Mesa, California on Monday, August 5). 

Now, after the El Paso shooting, Walmart will continue its computer-based active shooter training that launched in 2015 for its employees. According to USA Today, in 2017 Walmart made its workers take the training on a quarterly basis instead of annually and last month they began incorporating virtual reality technology in its active shooter training. But despite, their deadliest mass shooting in the El Paso location, the retailer will not stop its sales of rifles and other firearms. 

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