Relatives of victims of the Walmart mass shooting wait for information from authorities at the reunification center in El Paso, Texas, on Sunday. Photograph: Andres Leighton/AP
A 25-year-old woman who was shot while apparently shielding her two-month-old son was among the 20 people killed when a gunman opened fire in a crowded El Paso shopping area, her sister said on Sunday.
The baby was injured, though not shot, and almost certainly had his life saved by his mother as she perished.
Federal prosecutors are treating the shooting at the Texas city on the Mexican border as an act of domestic terrorism and a possible hate crime. The lone, 21-year-old gunman was taken into custody on Saturday.
Leta Jamrowski, 19, of El Paso, learned on Saturday afternoon that her sister, Jordan Anchondo, had been fatally shot by the gunman who rampaged at a Walmart supermarket near the Texas border city, while the mother and her baby were shopping for back-to-school supplies earlier in the day.
Jamrowski spoke as she paced a waiting room at the University Medical Center of El Paso, where her two-month-old nephew was being treated for broken bones – the result of his mother’s fall.
“From the baby’s injuries, they said that more than likely my sister was trying to shield him,” she said. “So when she got shot she was holding him and she fell on him, so that’s why he broke some of his bones. So he pretty much lived because she gave her life,” Jamrowski told the Associated Press news agency.
Anchondo was the mother of three children.
Jamrowski spent the night desperately awaiting word of whether her brother-in-law, Andre Anchondo, had survived the attack that also wounded more than two dozen.
“They said that if he were alive, more than likely he would have gotten in contact by now,” Jamrowski said.
Local prosecutors have said they intend to seek the death penalty for the suspect in the shooting.
The victims in the Texas shooting and another early Sunday, in Dayton, Ohio, have yet to be named by the authorities.