PHOENIX, AZ — First Church UCC in Phoenix opened their doors Sunday evening to several dozen who hoped for a place to feel a connection to the back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.
Twenty two people were killed after a gunman opened fire inside an El Paso Walmart, more than 20 others injured.
Just hours later, another shot and killed ten at a nightclub in Dayton, Ohio.
“This is a hard day," said Kitty Bryan. "It’s so painful and you don’t know what to do with that pain."
Dozens of attendees looked to church leaders, who shared frustration, anger, and most didn't mince words when addressing the alleged shooters in both massacres.
"You can't be a christian and a white supremacist," said Bishop Jennifer Reddall, referring to accused El Paso gunman 21 year-old Patrick Crusius of Allen, Texas who's alleged to have written a hate-filled manifesto prior to the shooting.
Church leaders, one by one, listed off every major mass shooting in the U.S. since the tragedy at Sandy Hook, ringing bells to honor the hundreds of victims lost.
As the school year approaches, valley parents say they're keeping the Texas incident at the forefront of their minds.
“Arizona is an open carry state, and I have been back to school shopping," said Denice Murphy. "I was here at a local store with my kids and a gentleman was wearing a long gun and I put down my basket and took my kids and we left."