- Views & Opinions
Read the July 16 update: New suspect sketch released in double-shooting in Texas.
Detectives, rangers and federal agents continue to investigate a shooting in a Portland, Texas, park that left one teenager dead and her girlfriend seriously wounded.
Mary Kristene Chapa, 18, iscontinuing a slow but surprising recovery after suffering a close-range gunshot wound to the head.
Chapa’s girlfriend, Mollie Judith Olgin, a 19-year-old student at Texas A & M, did not survive a gunshot wound to the neck. She was remembered in an informal celebration of her life on June 29 in Portland. Her obituary said, “Mollie touched the lives of everyone and will always be remembered for her intelligence, beauty, compassion, humor and her kind heart.”
She died in the knee-high grass in Violet Andrews Park, a newer, 10-acre park overlooking Corpus Christi Bay that’s popular with hikers, bird-watchers and wind-surfers. A couple found the girls early June 23, some nine hours after the shooting.
The teenagers, according to friends, had planned to go to a movie on June 22 but they were early and decided to take a walk in the park.
Local police are investigating the crime with the help of the Texas Rangers and the U.S. Justice Department. Olgin’s death has been classified as a murder and Chapa’s shooting as aggravated assault.
At least one witness pro- vided a description of the shooter. The suspect is a light-skinned, Anglo man with brown hair and, at about 5’8” and 140 pounds, a skinny build. Authorities released a sketch on July 4.
As of July 5, there was no information about a motive. A Portland Police Department news release said, “There continues to be no evidence that the attack was motivated by the victims’ sexual orientation.”
To assist with Chapa’s recovery, donations are being collected through the online Idiegogo and WePay services.
In the week after the shooting, vigils took place in Portland, Texas, as well as Portland, Ore., Portland, Maine, and many other locations.
The first of the vigils was held in Harvey Milk Plaza in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood.
Longtime gay rights activist Cleve Jones organized the event.
“Last Friday, as millions of LGBT people and their allies were celebrating Pride, something awful happened in Portland, Texas,” he said.“ We need to respond publicly to this tragedy. Whoever shot Mary Christine Chapa and Mollie Judith Olgin, whatever the motive, regardless of where it happened, two beautiful girls were shot and one was killed. We need to honor the memory of Mollie and pray for the recovery of Mary. … Mary and Mollie loved each other. Now we need to show our love for them and their families and friends.”
About 100 people attended another vigil in Washington, D.C.
Addressing the crowd, Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, said, “Texas is a long ways away, but we’re in our nation’s capital, and so all of you being here today sends that message and says to those in Texas who are investigating that the world is watching – that the world is watching to ensure that the investigation is handled properly and thoroughly by the local authorities.”
Griffin said HRC, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group, and Equality Texas, the state’s largest LGBT civil rights group, had offered assistance to investigators.