Harlingen middle school teacher Esmeralda Valdez is a few weeks shy of returning to work for the school year and although she's focused on leading a new round of students, her mind is on the victims of the Colorado movie theater massacre.
She doesn't know anyone in Colorado or that was involved in the shooting, but she knows what it feels like to be terrorized.
"Somebody drove by and it sounded at first like firecrackers going off."
This weekend marks 20 years since Esmeralda was the victim of a drive by shooting.
"People started yelling get down get down they're shooting."
She was 19 years old at a friend TMs party in Weslaco off Mile 10 when a car filled with teenage boys drove up and shot randomly into the crowd gathered outside a house.
"I just felt something warm hit my leg. I got hit in my calf and the bullet ricocheted in my knee. I just fell, I couldn't walk anymore and then everyone started screaming they're coming back"
Another teenage girl was shot in the abdomen and both were rushed to the hospital.
"For 20 years it has hurt. It's been excruciating pain every day of my life since then. I've had to have 5 different surgeries."
Esmeralda had to have total knee replacement surgery.
Scars are reminders of the senseless act of which the shooters were never really punished.
"I believe there were 3 guys, one 17 or just turned 18 and he got the worst of it which was 6 months at a boys home, the other 2 got community service."
That's why on the eve of the anniversary of her shooting, Esmeralda is praying for a better outcome in the Colorado case so that justice can play a part in their healing process.
As for stricter gun laws, Esmeralda says a law isn't going to change the intent of a person who is out to harm someone else.