Dec. 18 was proclaimed ‘Veronica Renee Sanchez Day’ in Midland
MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – Veronica Renee Sanchez was a loving person with a caring heart.
She adored animals. Veronica would stop to feed any stray pet. She’d encourage anyone, even a stranger, to adopt an animal needing a home.
Veronica had plans to start college this Fall. Ultimately, she wanted her license in real estate.
But in February, the 19-year-old’s dreams were cut short in a horrific murder-suicide. A coworker took Veronica’s life. Then, he took his own.
Veronica’s parents do not want their only child to be remembered by her untimely and tragic death, but rather, by her life and how Veronica chose to live it.
“I would say she’s about four. This one right here was taken at her grandma’s house,” said Veronica’s mother, Jennifer Sanchez.
Jennifer is pointing out photos printed on a purple short-sleeved shirt, memorializing her only child. She holds these photos close to her heart.
“This one she took five years ago by herself. I love this one. This is like my favorite picture,” Jennifer happily muses, pointing to a selfie of Veronica.
She adds: “This one was her in sports. I want to say 8th grade… playing basketball.”
Jennifer was at Wadley-Barron Park in Midland on Friday morning for the 8th annual ‘Domestic Violence Awareness Walk.’
She was joined by her family, Midland law enforcement officers, the District Attorney’s office, a number of domestic violence survivors, and leaders of local groups, including the Midland Victims Coalition.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Friday’s walk and ceremony were about raising awareness of available resources, like ‘Safe Place of the Permian Basin,’ a nonprofit residential shelter that offers full-time advocacy and counseling services.
Attendees also came to honor the memory of 19-year-old Veronica.
“She was our only child. She was our world. There’s not a second that doesn’t go by that we don’t think of her. The pain me and her father especially suffer is an emptiness that no parent should ever have to feel,” Jennifer said tearfully. “She was tragically taken from us at 19-years-old. Eight months earlier this year, in February of this year, by a coworker. There was no relationship except they were coworkers. No relationship at all. We don’t understand why… So, today is about honoring her with her proclamation.”
A proclamation was made. District 3 Midland city council member Jack Ladd proclaimed Veronica’s heavenly birthday, December 18th, to be a day of remembering in Midland. It was aptly named ‘Veronica Renee Sanchez Day.’
Yourbasin.com spoke with Ladd about domestic violence awareness.
“There are people out there in an abusive situation and they may not realize it. But for those that do realize they’re in that abusive situation, they need to know that there’s a resource like ‘Safe Place‘ for them to go to for protection,” Ladd said.
There was a large presence from local law enforcement at Friday’s event, namely members of the Midland Police Department and the Midland County Sheriff’s Office. Police Chief Seth Herman and Sheriff David Criner addressed the crowd during the ceremony. Members of both agencies spoke with attendees and took part in the walk, too, from start to finish.
Local law enforcement is an important resource in preventing and stopping domestic violence, MPD Officer Chane Blandford said.
“Law enforcement is the first line for these ladies and for these men, whenever something goes wrong and their neighbor calls, or they call. So, we’re the first ones in the door trying to get them help, trying to get them out of the scene, because we know what happens if they stay involved for way too long,” Officer Blandford said. “So our goal is to try to get them out, try to get them help, and try to be as nice and as courteous as possible and as helpful as possible.”
As for the Sanchez family, Jennifer said she hopes no other parent will have to live through this heartbreak. Jennifer is working with lawmakers to pass “Veronica’s Law.” It would create legislation to ensure parents and guardians take responsibility for locking up firearms at home.
“I’m Veronica’s voice now. Me, her father, the Sanchez family, everybody that knows Veronica, loves Veronica… We’re her voice now,” Jennifer said. “She will live on forever.”
Veronica’s legacy will surely live on. One of her cousins is expected to give birth soon. That child will share Veronica’s middle name, Renee.
The Sanchez family said you can continue Veronica’s legacy by helping any animal in need.
The Midland Police Department can help domestic violence survivors in two unique ways.
There is a program administered by the Office of the Attorney General. It’s called Crime Victims Compensation. MPD Crime Victim Liaison, Iris Mata, explains how police can help during the process.
“If you have out-of-pocket expenses because of a crime… if you, for example, got assaulted and you had to go to the hospital, you can apply for the Crime Victims Compensation program. I can help you fill out that application and I will submit it on your behalf,” Mata said. “That way you can get reimbursed if you are approved.”
Mata added: “Also, a lot of people don’t know about protective orders. There are emergency protective orders that are good up to 91 days. But you can also get long term protective orders through the DA’s office.”
Anyone who is interested in speaking with the Crime Victim Liaison can do so by calling 432-685-7584.
“Even if you don’t have a case with the Midland Police Department, even if you did not press charges on anybody, you can still get help,” Mata said.