Antonio Basco feared he would be alone to say goodbye to his wife, who was killed in the El Paso shooting, but now thousands are expected to attend her vigil Friday night.
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The funeral for Margie Reckard, Basco’s wife of 22 years, will take place Saturday morning, and is expected to draw a similar crowd.
Basco welcomed strangers to attend the services because didn’t have any family nearby.
The response to his invitation was so overwhelming that the funeral staff relocated the service to a bigger venue in El Paso, Texas.
Reckard was an employee of the Walmart, where she and 21 others were killed and more than two dozen were injured when a gunman opened fire on Aug. 3.
“The outpouring and amazing response from all over, not just our city, but the country is gonna be more than the capacity of the venue that we have,” Harrison Johnson, director of the Perches Funeral Homes, told ABC News on Friday.
“I’m sure it’s gonna be thousands,” he added.
The service was originally scheduled to be held in a chapel that seats 250 people, but Perches had “more than 250 calls” from well-wishers all over the country so they were moved to La Paz Faith Memorial and Spiritual Center, a facility owned by Perches.
La Paz seats 500 people.
“I’ve been doing this for over 30 years and I’ve never seen this … for, I guess so to speak, a non-high profile person,” Johnson said. “I’ve never experienced such an outpouring of love and support and caring for what you would say is pretty much just an ordinary citizen, you know a loving person.”
Since Perches posted on Facebook that Basco “welcomes anyone to attend his wife’s service” because he had no nearby family, people from as far away as California have expressed interest in attending Reckard’s funeral, Johnson said.
He said Basco has been “overwhelmed” by the response. After speaking with Basco Friday morning, Johnson said he seemed to be “doing well.”
Basco could not immediately be reached.
Reckard’s two sons and her daughter arrived in El Paso Thursday to attend their mother’s funeral, Johnson added.
The FBI El Paso Division and its Victim Service Specialists will be in attendance at Reckard’s funeral Friday.
“As part of this community, we won’t let anyone so severely hurt by this tragedy go through this alone,” the department tweeted Thursday. “Mr. Basco, we stand with you.”
Our Victim Service Specalists and the FBI El Paso Division would be honored to attend Margie Reckard’s services this Friday night. As part of this community, we won’t let anyone so severely hurt by this tragedy go through this alone. Mr. Basco, we stand with you. #EPStrong pic.twitter.com/T70QtJB5ie
— FBI El Paso (@FBIElPaso) August 16, 2019
The vigil for Reckard will begin at 6 p.m. local time. She will be buried Saturday morning.