Beloved Army veteran among those killed in El Paso shooting


Arturo Benavides

(GoFundMe photo)

Former Army Staff Sgt. Arturo Benavides, 60, has been identified as one of the victims of the El Paso shooting that left 22 people dead over the weekend.

First reported by the Los Angeles Times and, Benavides was in line at the Walmart in El Paso on Saturday when the 21-year-old gunman opened fire on shoppers.

His wife, Patricia, survived after being "pushed into a handicapped bathroom," per the Times.

Benavides, born and raised in El Paso, served in the Army from June 1978 to January 1984, and then in the Texas National Guard from February 1984 to June 2001, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Emanuel Ortiz told Task & Purpose. He worked as a motor transportation operator, cargo specialist, and a Hawk missile crewman.

He was awarded the Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and more — including the Texas Guard-specific Adjutant General Individual Award.

Benavides and his wife typically went to Walmart to do their weekly shopping after going to church on Sundays, according to reports, but he decided to do it a day early on Saturday.

The couple did not have children, though his niece and goddaughter, Jacklin Luna, told the Times that Benavides "was kind, generous, always willing to give everyone the shirt off his back."

"I spent my childhood waking up at their house, sitting out on the front porch with him on Sunday mornings, listening to the oldies on the radio," Luna said.

He was a Dallas Cowboys fan, a "good Catholic," and "easygoing," the Los Angeles Times reports.

His nephew, Jimmy Cervantes, told the Times that he used to go with his uncle a few times a week to Ft. Bliss in El Paso, and that Benavides loved being back around soldiers.

"He was a cheerful guy, always telling stories about his war days. ... The same stories every time. That used to be his battalion. He loved being out there and chitchatting with people. He would start talking with everyone."

A GoFundMe has been launched to help raise money for his wife, and has raised around $6,500 so far — surpassing its $5,000 goal.

AP Photo/Michael Sohn

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