Two mass shootings in one Texas town, decades apart

Texas Mass Violence

EL PASO, Texas (KXAN) — Drunk and stewing in anger, Barry Chvarak, 21, stood up from the bar of the Starburst Lounge, turned to his twin brother and said he was “going to shoot up the place.”

It was 2 a.m. on Feb. 3, 1980, last call. The bartender had just flipped on the house lights of the country and western dive bar tucked in the Northeast outskirts of El Paso. Chvarak walked to the parking lot toward his truck, but he wasn’t leaving.

He retrieved a semi-automatic .22 caliber rifle, loaded it outside and walked back into the lounge. Chvarak would later struggle to explain his motive in that moment. The threat seemed so outlandish, his own twin didn’t consider it serious.

The next minute would seal Chvarak’s fate: five innocent people murdered and three others wounded. It would be, until 2019, the worst mass shooting in the city’s history.

After that tragic day in the Starburst, mass shootings in Texas would steadily increase and reach deadly new heights in 2018 and 2019. In September, Gov. Greg Abbott outlined executive and legislative plans that state leaders hope could decrease the violence. Now, a KXAN investigation digs into two tragic mass attacks in 1980 and the following 40 years of mass violence.

Tap here to read the full story and explore interactive elements

More Stories for you

• Issues, concerns and solutions in the debate surrounding mass violence
AUSTIN (KXAN) — When it comes to mass violence, there isn’t one step that can be taken to fix it. However, there are a…

• Central Texas woman searching for bone marrow match
Registry experts say it’s tougher for biracial people to find a match AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Lizzie Tennyson was…

• A Texas family was told to remove their Christmas decorations because it’s too early
(CNN) – When’s the best time to put up Christmas decorations? A homeowners association in San Antonio thinks it knows…

• Group clears private riverfront land to build border wall in South Texas
MISSION, Texas (Border Report) — A controversial Florida- based nonprofit advocacy organization, We Build the Wall,…

• State Rep. Poncho Nevárez bonds out of jail after cameras catch him dropping cocaine at airport
AUSTIN (Nexstar) — State Rep. Poncho Nevárez, D-Eagle Pass, has bonded out of jail after he was caught on su…

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.