Antonio Basco's Car Was Stolen And Totaled Right After His Wife's Funeral. His Community Got Him Another One The Next Day.
"El Pasoans take care of each other."
Antonio Basco loved his old, blue Ford Escape because it was his wife's. He lived in it for nearly a week in the Walmart parking lot where she died.
So when his community discovered that hours after he buried her, someone stole and wrecked the SUV, it found him another one.
On Saturday, surrounded by thousands of strangers, the 61-year-old laid his wife, Margie Reckard, to rest in one of the largest funerals Texas has ever seen. Basco had invited "everyone" to come because, now that she's gone, he didn't really have anyone else.
So they did. The mourners came in droves, flying in from all over the country. They filled the pews and spilled onto the roasting sidewalks to be there with him, to pay their respects to Reckard and the other 21 people who died after a racist opened fire in a Walmart nearly two weeks ago.
Stunned, the widower told the congregation about a woman most had never met, his wife, "his world," and how amazing she was.
Hours later, someone stole the aging Ford the couple had shared and wrecked it. Residents started sharing photos of the smashed blue Escape on Facebook. The community quickly rallied to support him again.
"WTF is wrong with people!? He just buried his wife yesterday and now this shit. This is the same vehicle CASA just completely serviced and repaired for him," Vanessa Kondow, who said her husband helped tow Basco's car back to his house on Sunday, wrote on Facebook. "Share the shit out of this post ... "
A few days after the shooting, before the widower became a nationally known name, employees at Casa Ford Lincoln learned that Basco had been living in his Escape. He had been staying in the car without air conditioning outside the Walmart memorial, near his wife's cross. The employees repaired the broken AC system and replaced the tires and brakes.
On Sunday, the company learned that the Escape had been severely damaged and wrote on Facebook that they were "committed to helping him in any way that we can."
"We caught news of his vehicle being totaled and it was a natural extension for the same folks who helped the first time to call and text asking what we could do," Ronnie Lowenfield, who owns Casa with his three brothers, told BuzzFeed News on Monday night.
Although the dealership knew that Basco wanted to repair the crushed Escape because it belonged to Reckard and he wanted to keep it, Lowenfield said that they got lucky.
"We had a blue Ford Escape in stock," he said. "So we donated it to him so that he could have a mode of transportation and still have a connection to his wife."
According to Lowenfield, Basco's pressure washer, which he uses to make a living washing cars, was also stolen. After seeing the fundraising efforts, a man from Alpine, Texas, called the dealership and said he could help.
"This gentleman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he would like to drive down to El Paso and donate it to Tony," Lowenfield said.
So for the second time in a few days, Basco stood surrounded by strangers and thanked them for their kindness and for helping him remember his wife.
"You don't know how much this means to me," he told the crowd of about 100 employees and their families after checking out the new car.
He then walked around, hugging people, shaking hands, saying thank you, and cracking jokes.
"If you want to be a man, buy a Ford," he can be heard saying in a Facebook live video, pointing a finger. "No Nissans!"
Many people handed him notes and patted his back. He told them that his wife's death really hadn't hit him yet, that he recently tried calling her on her cellphone, and then remembered.
"The amazing moment here is to see Tony smiling," Charly Rios, who works at Casa, told BuzzFeed News after the event.
Like the thousands who poured into El Paso to attend Reckard's funeral, the dealership owner said that he and his employees, who "have hearts of gold," had been struggling with how to be there for the victims and for their community.
"It's been hard for me personally because I have been very cautious on how to help," Lowenfield, who was born and raised in El Paso, said. "I've been concerned about it being a self-promotion, but I just wanted to make sure that the world knows this is who we are. El Pasoans take care of each other. We take money we might or might not have to support others. And when cars break down, we replace them."