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Immigrant Communities Panicked after Colorado Shooting

Posted: Jul 20, 2012

Anxiously waiting for an official statement from law officials, many immigrants are scrambling for information about the identity and condition of the victims of the Colorado shooting rampage at the Batman movie late last night.

The shootings, in Aurora, a city outside Denver with a heavy concentration of immigrants, left more than a dozen killed and dozens wounded. Several families there are in a state of panic.

"I have been calling relatives and friends since this morning," said Rosalyn Aguirre, a resident of Colorado Springs, in a telephone interview. "Most residents in that area are immigrants. I'm afraid some of the victims could be Latino or Asian."

In a statement released earlier today, the Pentagon said that there were members of the military who were either killed or wounded in the shootings, although it did not identify them.

"People are calling and e-mailing each other. It makes people paranoid (wondering how) their brother or sister, father or mother is doing after the massacre," Aguirre, 33, said.

Later tonight, a number of prayer meetings for the victims will be held simultaneously in churches across the state of Colorado. Organized by Spanish-speaking congregations, immigrants from different religious denominations are expected to join and observe a moment of silence together.

"This is a very challenging time. We still have many unanswered questions," said Francisco Miraval, the head of Project Vision 21, a Denver-based bilingual online news service agency.

With about 38 percent of Aurora residents Hispanic, Miraval said there were reports -- although unofficial and unconfirmed -- that at least three of the victims were of Latino descent.

Since early this morning, he noted, Latinos have been gathering at churches and drawing strength from each other. Some are calling ethnic news outlets, hoping they had information about the identity of the victims.

"Everybody is broken-hearted," said Wendy Chao, publisher and editor of Colorado Chinese News. "Many are asking, 'Why is this happening in our neighborhood?' But we don't (have) enough information yet. "

According to Chao, the city of Aurora has the highest Asian population in Colorado. But she said that so far she has not gotten any reports whether there were any Asians among the victims.

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