May 11, 2023 - News

Strangers come together to help Allen heal after mass shooting

Two people work on a mural to commemorate the victims of the Allen shooting.

Roberto Marquez (left) and Jessel Roberts didn't know each other before this week. Photo: Naheed Rajwani-Dharsi/Axios

People come and go at the massive memorial outside the Allen Premium Outlets for the victims of Saturday's shooting, but a few of them have spent countless hours at the site trying to help strangers process their grief.

The big picture: Cheryl Jackson helps keep the memorial site tidy while looking out for visibly upset people who need someone to talk to.

  • Nearby, Roberto Marquez has been working on a mural he hopes will offer solace and hope, just as he has done at the sites of other tragedies.

His story: Marquez, who splits his time between Guadalajara, Mexico, and Dallas, gave up his career in real estate investing in 2018 to pursue art full time.

Cheryl Jackson ensures the memorial site for the Allen shooting victims stays organized. Photo: Naheed Rajwani-Dharsi/Axios

Her story: Jackson grew up in Allen and runs Minnie's Food Pantry, named after her late mother.

  • Jackson was driving to her mother's gravesite on Sunday when she noticed a budding memorial of crosses for the shooting victims. Seeing it as a sign from her mother, she decided to stop and help.
  • She has since consoled many strangers at the site, praying with them, holding them tight and listening to stories about the loved ones they lost.

Meanwhile: Several others have joined the cause. Jessel Roberts, who is visiting her mother-in-law from Australia, and Diba Maleki, a 9-year-old who lives close by, helped Marquez with his mural on Tuesday.

What's next: Marquez says the mural will portray the police officer who ran toward the gunfire to stop the shooter. Brushstrokes of hands all over the canvas will symbolize the people the officer helped save.

  • Marquez also plans to create a second mural for Allen with help from the public for the concept and final look.
  • "We're not going to focus on the tragedy. We're going to bring something for people to reflect on, to think. We're going to concentrate on hope," he says.

The bottom line: "I'm not in any political party, but I'm hoping that the party of the people will stand up and say, 'Enough is enough,'" Jackson says. "A lot of change needs to occur, or we will be making crosses like this for the rest of our lives."


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