Distraught families gathered at a local civic center and took to social media to mourn and issue desperate pleas for help in finding missing children as the death toll in a horrific shooting at an elementary school in the Texas amounted to at least 19 students. Authorities said the shooter also killed two adults.
As night fell, the names of those killed in Tuesday’s attack at Robb Elementary School in the town of Uvalde began to emerge. A man from the civic center walked away sobbing into his phone “she’s gone”. At the back of the building, a woman stood alone, alternately crying and shouting into her phone, clenching her fist and stamping her foot.
Manny Renfro said he learned on Tuesday that his grandson, Uziyah Garcia, was among those killed.
“The sweetest little boy I’ve ever known,” Renfro said. “I’m not saying that just because he was my grandson.”
Renfro said Uziyah last visited him in San Angelo during spring break.
“We started throwing football together and I was teaching him passing patterns. Such a fast little boy and he could catch a ball so well,” Renfro said. “There were certain plays that I would call that he would remember and he would do it just like we practiced.”
Eva Mireles’ aunt told The New York Times that Mireles was a teacher who “took pride in teaching primarily students of Latin American descent.”
Fourth grade teacher Eva Mireles is remembered as a loving mother and wife.
“She was adventurous. I would definitely say these wonderful things about him. She will definitely be missed dearly,” said Amber Ybarra, a 34-year-old relative from San Antonio.
Ybarra prepared to donate blood for the injured and figured no one had noticed any trouble with the shooter in time to arrest him.
“For me, it’s more about raising awareness about mental health,” said Ybarra, a wellness coach who attended the elementary school where the shooting happened. “Someone could have seen a drastic change before something like this happened.”
Cristian Garcia said his mother — Irma Garcia, another Robb Elementary School teacher — was also confirmed dead in the shooting.
Lisa Garza, 54, of Arlington, Texas, mourned the death of her cousin, Xavier Javier Lopez, who was looking forward to a summer of swimming.
“He was just a loving 10-year-old boy, just enjoying life, not knowing that this tragedy was going to happen today,” she said. “He was very bubbly, loved dancing with his brothers, his mum. It just weighed on all of us.
She also lamented what she described as lax gun laws.
“We should have more restrictions, especially if these kids are not in their right mindset and all they want to do is just hurt people, especially innocent kids going to school. “, said Garza.
“We are a small community, and we will need your prayers to get us through this,” Hal Harrell, CISD Uvalde’s superintendent, said after Tuesday’s mass shooting.
On social media, photos of smiling children were posted, their families begging for information. Classes were over for the year and each school day had a theme. Tuesday was Footloose and Fancy. Students were expected to wear a nice outfit with fun or fancy shoes.
Adolfo Cruz, a 69-year-old air conditioning repairman, stayed outside school on Tuesday night, awaiting news of his 10-year-old great-granddaughter, whose whereabouts were unknown to the family.
Cruz traveled to the scene after receiving a tearful and terrifying call from his daughter shortly after initial reports that an 18-year-old gunman had opened fire on the school. As he waited outside school on Tuesday evening, his family was in the hospital and civic center awaiting any potential word on his condition.
Çruz called the wait the heaviest moment of his life.
“I hope she’s alive,” Cruz said. “They are waiting for an update.”
Federico Torres was waiting for news from his own 10-year-old son. He told KHOU-TV he was at work when he learned of the shooting and rushed to school.
“They sent us to the hospital, to the civic center, to the hospital and then again, nothing, not even to San Antonio,” Torres said. “They don’t tell us anything, only a photo, wait, I hope everything is fine.”
Torres said he was praying that “my son will be found safe… Please, if you know anything, let us know.”
Hillcrest Memorial Funeral Home, located across from Robb Elementary School, said in a Facebook post Tuesday night that it would help the families of the shooting victims at no funeral cost.
Fourteen children and a teacher were killed in a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday after an 18-year-old man opened fire inside an elementary school. Reports by Clark Fouraker.
Hollingsworth reported from Mission, Kansas. Jamie Stengle contributed from Dallas.