Nineteen children and two teachers were killed after agunman barricaded himself inside a fourth-grade classroom in Uvalde, Texas, and opened fire.
Tuesday’s massacre took place just days before the end of the school year at Robb Elementary School. What should have been a time of celebration soon turned into one of grief and agony.
Families gathered at a civic center that night to learn whether their loved ones had survived. Some had the grim task of providing DNA swabs to help investigators determine whether their family members was among the victims.
As of Wednesday afternoon, at least six families said they had received devastating news.
Here’s what friends and relatives want everyone to remember about the people they lost:
Amerie Jo Garza
For seven hours, Angel Garza scrambled to find his 10-year-old daughter, Amerie Jo. He pleaded for the public’s help on Facebook.
“I don’t ask for much or hardly even post on here but please It’s been seven hours and I still haven’t heard anything on my love,” Garza wrote. “Please help me find my daughter.”
On Wednesday morning, Garza gave a heartbreaking update.
“Thank you everyone for the prayers and help trying to find my baby. She’s been found. My little love is now flying high with the angels above,” Garza posted.
“Please don’t take a second for granted. Hug your family. Tell them you love them. I love you Amerie jo. Watch over your baby brother for me.”
A fourth-grade teacher, Eva Mireles, was also killed at the school, family members told CNN.
Mireles had been an educator for 17 years. Erica Torres recalled the care with which Mireles treated her her son her Stanley, who has autism, while he was in her third- and fourth-grade classes. In an effort to stop him from wandering around the school, Mireles put Stanley in charge of rounding up students to get to class.
“She made you feel like she was only teaching your child,” Torres said. “Like there’s no other students but him. She made you feel so good.”
In her spare time, Mireles enjoyed running, hiking, biking and being with her family, according to her profile on the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District’s website.
“She was a vivacious soul. She spread laughter and joy everywhere she went,” relative Amber Ybarra told CNN. “She was a loving and caring mom, relative, teacher to her students her, and it’s absolutely tragic what ‘s happening.”
Just hours before he was killed, 10-year-old Xavier Lopez was lauded at Robb Elementary’s honor roll ceremony, his mother, Felicha Martinez, told The Washington Post.
Martinez took a photo of her fourth-grader and told him she was proud of him and loved him. That was the last moment she was to share with her her “mama’s boy.”
“He was funny, never serious, and his smile … ” Felicha Martinez told the Post, her voice breaking. “That smile I will never forget. It would always cheer anyone up.”
Just a few days shy of completing his last year of elementary school, Xavier was counting down to his official move up the academic ladder into Flores Middle School in Uvalde, his mother told the Post.
“He really couldn’t wait to go to middle school,” she said.
The family of 10-year-old Uziyah Garcia told CNN that their fourth-grader was among those killed at Robb Elementary.
Uziyah was “full of life,” according to an uncle, Mitch Renfro. He loved video games and anything with wheels, and leaves behind two sisters.
“The sweetest little boy that I’ve ever known,” Garcia’s grandfather Manny Renfro told CNN affiliate KSAT. “I’m not just saying that because he was my grandkid.”
Uziyah last visited his grandfather in San Angelo during his spring break. Renfro recalls tossing around a football with him and how quickly his grandson he took to the sport.
“We started throwing the football together, and I was teaching him pass patterns. Such a fast little boy and he could catch a ball so good,” Renfro said. “There were certain plays that I would call that he would remember and he would do it exactly like we practiced.”
Jose Flores Jr.
Jose Flores Jr., 10, was also among those killed at Robb Elementary, his father Jose Flores Sr. told CNN.
Flores described the fourth grader as an amazing kid and big brother to his two siblings. Jose loved baseball and video games.
“He was always full of energy,” Flores said. “Ready to play till the night.”
Felix and Kimberly Rubio had just celebrated their daughter Lexi’s achievements at school before she was killed.
Lexi, who was 10 years old and in the fourth grade, had made the All-A honor roll and received a good citizen award, her parents told CNN.
“We told her we loved her and would pick her up after school. We had no idea this was goodbye,” Kimberly Rubio wrote in a post on Facebook.
The parents told CNN they were proud of their daughter, who loved softball and basketball. She wanted to be a lawyer when she grew up, the family told CNN.
“She was kind, sweet, and appreciated life. She was going to be an all-star in softball and had a bright future, whether it’s sports or academic. Please let the world know we miss our baby.”
Felix Rubio, a deputy with the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office, told CNN’s Jason Carroll he was one of many authorities who responded to the scene of the shooting. The grieving father said he wants to see gun violence addressed.
“All I can hope is that she’s just not a number,” he said through tears. “This is enough. No one else needs to go through this. We never needed to go through this, but we are.”
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