UVALDE, Texas (AP) — Distraught families gathered at a local civic center and took to social media to mourn and desperately ask for help locating missing children as the death toll in a gruesome school shooting hit one Elementary school in Texas had risen to at least 19 students. Authorities said the gunman also killed two adults.
As night fell, the names of those killed in Tuesday’s attack on Robb Primary School in the town of Uvalde began to emerge. A man at 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 screaming into her phone, shaking her fist and stamping her feet.
Manny Renfro said he learned Tuesday that his grandson, 8-year-old Uziyah Garcia, was among those killed.
“The cutest little boy I’ve ever known,” said Renfro. “I’m not just saying that because he was my grandson.”
Renfro said Uziyah last visited him during spring break in San Angelo.
“We started throwing the football together and I taught him passing patterns. Such a fast little boy and he was so good at catching a ball,” said Renfro. “There were certain pieces I would name that he would remember and he would do it exactly as we practiced.”
Fourth grade teacher Eva Mireles, 44, was remembered as a loving mother and wife.
“She was adventurous. I would definitely say those wonderful things about her. She will definitely be missed greatly,” said relative Amber Ybarra, 34, of San Antonio.
Ybarra prepared to donate blood for the wounded and mused on how no one noticed problems with the gunner in time to stop 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 took place. “Someone could possibly have seen a dramatic change before something like this happened.”
Lisa Garza, 54, of Arlington, Texas, mourned the loss of her cousin Xavier Javier Lopez, who had been longingly awaiting a summer swim.
“He was just a loving 10-year-old little boy just enjoying life and not knowing that this tragedy was going to happen today,” she said. “He was very lively, loved to dance with his brothers and his mother. That just took us all away.”
She also bemoaned what she described as lax gun laws.
“We should have more restrictions, especially when these kids aren’t in the right shape and they just want to hurt people, especially innocent kids who are going to school,” Garza said.
Images were posted on social media of smiling children whose families were begging for information. Classes had come to an end for the year and each school day had a theme. Tuesday was Footloose and Fancy. Students should wear a nice outfit with fun or fancy shoes.
Adolfo Cruz, a 69-year-old air conditioning repairman, stayed outside of school Tuesday night awaiting news about his 10-year-old great-granddaughter Eliajha Cruz Torres, whose whereabouts remained unknown to the family.
Cruz drove to the scene after receiving a tearful and chilling phone call from his daughter shortly after initial reports that an 18-year-old gunman had opened fire on the school. While he waited outside the school Tuesday night, his family waited at the hospital and community center for any news about their condition.
Çruz called the waiting the hardest moment of his life.
“I hope she’s alive,” Cruz said. “They are waiting for an update.”
Federico Torres was waiting for news about his 10-year-old son Rogelio. He told KHOU-TV that he was at work when he found out about the shooting and rushed to school.
“They sent us to the hospital, to the admin center, to the hospital and again nothing here, not even in San Antonio,” Torres said. “They don’t tell us anything, just a photo, wait, hope all is well.”
Torres said he is praying that “my son will be found safe … Please let us know if you know anything.”
The Hillcrest Memorial Funeral Home, located across from Robb Elementary School, said in a Facebook post Tuesday night that it would help families of shooting victims at no funeral expense.
https://www.cbs17.com/news/families-mourn-worry-as-victims-begin-to-be-identified-in-wake-of-elementary-school-shooting/ Families mourn, worry as victims begin to be identified after primary school shooting