Crime & JusticeHuman InterestNewsSocial IssuesUvalde Shooting

“Precious Individuals” Taken in Texas School Shooting

“Personas preciosas” murieron en tiroteo escolar en Texas


The archbishop of San Antonio, Gustavo Garcia-Siller, comforts families outside the Civic Center following a deadly school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — One student was an avid runner, so fast she swept the races at field day. Another was learning football plays from his grandfather. One girl sensed something was wrong and wanted to skip school.

On Wednesday, May 25, stories began to emerge about the lives of the 19 children — “precious individuals” according to the school district superintendent — and their two teachers who were gunned down behind a barricaded door at Robb Elementary School in the southwestern Texas town of Uvalde.

Vincent Salazar said his 10-year-old daughter, Layla, loved to swim and dance to Tik Tok videos. She was fast — she won six races at the school’s field day, and Salazar proudly posted a photo of Layla showing off two of her ribbons on Facebook.

Each morning as he drove her to school in his pickup, Salazar would play “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns N’ Roses and they’d sing along, he said.

“She was just a whole lot of fun,” he said.

Manny Renfro lost his 8-year-old grandson, Uziyah Garcia, in the shooting.

“The sweetest little boy that I’ve ever known,” Renfro said. “I’m not just saying that because he was my grandkid.”

Renfro said Uziyah last visited him in San Angelo during spring break. “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.”

Javier Cazares said he found out Tuesday afternoon that his 9-year-old daughter Jacklyn Cazares was killed in her classroom. She was with a group of five girls, including her second cousin, Annabelle Rodriguez, who formed a tight group of friends.

“They are all gone now,” Cazares said.

The extended families of the slain cousins gathered Wednesday to mourn and comfort each other over barbecue.

Cazares described his daughter as a “firecracker” who “had a voice, she didn’t like bullies, she didn’t like kids being picked on.”

“All in all, full of love. She had a big heart,” he said.

Veronica Luevanos, whose 10-year-old daughter, Jailah Nicole Silguero, was among the victims, tearfully told Univision that her daughter did not want to go to school Tuesday and seemed to sense something bad was going to happen. Jailah’s cousin also died in the shooting.

All of the dead were in the same fourth-grade classroom, where the shooter, Salvador Ramos, barricaded himself on Tuesday, May 24, and opened fire on the children and their teachers, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told a news conference on Wednesday. He said the gunman used an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle in the attack and posted on Facebook shortly before the shooting: “I’m going to shoot an elementary school.”

Flowers and candles are placed outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday, May 25, 2022, to honor the victims killed in Tuesday’s shooting at the school. Desperation turned to heart-wrenching sorrow for families of grade schoolers killed after an 18-year-old gunman barricaded himself in their Texas classroom and began shooting, killing several fourth-graders and their teachers. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Schools Superintendent Hal Harrell fought back tears as he spoke of the children and their teachers.

“You can just tell by their angelic smiles that they were loved,” Harrell said of the children. “That they loved coming to school, that they were just precious individuals.”

The two teachers “poured their heart and soul” into their work, Harrell said.

Teacher Eva Mireles, 44, was remembered as a loving mother and wife. “She was adventurous. … She is definitely going to be very missed,” said 34-year-old relative Amber Ybarra, of San Antonio.

In a post on the school’s website at the start of the school year, Mireles introduced herself to her new students.

“Welcome to the 4th grade! We have a wonderful year ahead of us!” she wrote, noting she had been teaching 17 years, loved running and hiking, and had a “supportive, fun, and loving family.” She mentioned that her husband was a school district police officer, and they had a grown daughter and three “furry friends.”

The other slain teacher, Irma Garcia, wrote about her four children, including one who was in the Marines, in a letter introducing herself to the class. Garcia’s 21-year-old nephew, John Martinez, told the Detroit Free Press the family was struggling to grasp that while Garcia’s son trained for combat, it was his mother who was shot to death.

Angel Garza, a medical assistant with a stepdaughter at the school, arrived soon after the shooting and found himself aiding students streaming out injured and shaken up.

One girl was covered in blood, and he asked if she had been shot.

“I’m not hurt. He shot my best friend,” the girl said. “She’s not breathing. She was just trying to call the cops.”

And then she named the friend, Amerie Jo Garza, his stepdaughter.

Amerie was a happy child who had just gotten her first cell phone for turning 10 and had just gotten a certificate the morning of the shooting for making the honor roll. She also loved to paint and draw and work in clay.

Garza said that, in his grief, he wonders what happened in those brief moments before Amerie was killed; if she said anything to the shooter, if he had seen her reach for her phone. And then he remembered the moment she got the phone for her birthday, and her face.

“It just lit up with the happiest expression,” said Garza. “She was so sweet.”

Relatives of 10-year-old Eliahna Garcia recalled her love of family.

“She was very happy and very outgoing,” said Eliahna’s aunt, Siria Arizmendi, a fifth-grade teacher at Flores Elementary School in the same district. “She loved to dance and play sports. She was big into family, enjoyed being with the family.”

Lisa Garza, 54, of Arlington, Texas, mourned the death of her 10-year-old cousin, Xavier Javier Lopez, who had been eagerly awaiting a summer of swimming.

“He was just a loving … little boy, just enjoying life, not knowing that this tragedy was going to happen,” she said. “He was very bubbly, loved to dance with his brothers, his mom. This has just taken a toll on all of us.”

She lamented what she described as lax gun laws.

“We should have more restrictions, especially if these kids are not in their right state of mind and all they want to do is just hurt people, especially innocent children going to the schools,” Garza said.

Arizmendi also spoke angrily, through tears, about how the shooter managed to get a gun.

“It’s just difficult to understand or to put into words,” she said. “I just don’t know how people can sell that type of a gun to a kid 18 years old. What is he going to use it for but for that purpose?”

As Ybarra prepared to give blood for the wounded, she wondered how no one noticed trouble with the shooter in time to stop him.

“To me, it’s more about raising mental health awareness,” said Ybarra, a wellness coach who attended Robb Elementary herself. “Someone could possibly have seen a dramatic change before something like this happened.”

Even for the survivors, there was grief.

Lorena Auguste was substitute teaching at Uvalde High School when she heard about the shooting. She began frantically texting her niece, a fourth-grader at Robb Elementary, until Auguste heard from her sister that the child was OK.

Auguste said her niece asked her that night, “Tia, why did they do this to us? We’re good kids, we didn’t do anything wrong.”

Hillcrest Memorial Funeral Home, which is located across the street from Robb Elementary School, said in a Facebook post that it would be assisting families of the shooting victims with no cost for funerals. GoFundMe pages were set up for many of the victims, including one on behalf of all victims that has raised more than $1.5 million.



Joseph Avila (izquierda) reza mientras sostiene unas flores el miércoles, 25 de mayo del 2022, en honor a las víctimas del tiroteo en la escuela primaria Robb, en Uvalde, Texas. (AP Foto/Jae C. Hong)

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — Una estudiante era una ávida corredora, tan rápida que arrasaba en las carreras. Otro estaba aprendiendo jugadas de fútbol americano con su abuelo. Una niña sentía que algo malo iba a pasar y no quería ir a la escuela.

El miércoles, 25 de mayo, comenzaron a conocerse historias sobre las vidas de los 19 niños de cuarto grado y de sus dos profesoras que perdieron la vida detrás de una puerta bloqueada en la Escuela Primaria Robb de la localidad de Uvalde, en el suroeste de Texas.

Vincent Salazar dijo que su hija de 10 años de edad, Layla, amaba nadar y bailar en videos que subía a TikTok. Era rápida, ganó seis carreras en el día de campo de la escuela, y Salazar publicó orgulloso en Facebook una fotografía de Layla en la que mostraba dos de sus medallas.

Cada mañana, mientras la llevaba a la escuela en su camioneta, Salazar ponía “Sweet Child O’Mine”, de Guns N’ Roses, y la cantaban juntos, comentó.

“Era muy divertida”, señaló.

Manny Renfro dijo que el martes, 24 de mayo, recibió la noticia de que su nieto, Uziyah García, de 8 años, estaba entre los fallecidos.

“Era el niño más dulce que he conocido”, afirmó. “No lo digo solamente porque fuera mi nieto”.

Renfro contó que Uziyah lo visitó por última vez en San Ángelo durante las vacaciones de primavera. “Empezamos a jugar fútbol americano juntos y le estaba enseñando patrones de pase. Era un niño muy rápido y podía atrapar la pelota muy bien”, añadió. “Había algunas jugadas que yo nombraba y él recordaba, y las hacía exactamente como las habíamos practicado”.

Javier Cazares dijo que se enteró el martes por la tarde de que su hija de 9 años de edad, Jacklyn Cazares, había fallecido en su salón de clases. Estaba con un grupo de cinco niñas, incluida su prima segunda, Annabelle Rodríguez.

“Todas están muertas”, comentó Cazares.

Las familias de las primas asesinadas se reunieron el miércoles para consolarse mutuamente con una parrillada.

Cazares señaló que su hija era “explosiva”, que tenía “una voz, no le gustaban los bravucones, no le gustaba que molestaran a los niños”,

“Estaba llena de amor. Tenía un gran corazón”, comentó.

Verónica Luevanos, cuya hija de 10 años, Jailah Nicole Silguero, estaba entre las víctimas, comentó entre lágrimas a la cadena Univisión que su hija no quería ir a la escuela el martes y parecía presentir que algo malo iba a pasar. El primo de Jailah también falleció en el tiroteo.

Kladys Castellón prays during a vigil for the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Billy Calzada/The San Antonio Express-News via AP)

Todos los muertos eran de la misma aula, donde el agresor, Salvador Ramos, de 18 años, se atrincheró el martes y comenzó a disparar contra los niños y sus docentes, dijo el gobernador de Texas, Greg Abbott, en una conferencia de prensa el miércoles. Señaló que el agresor utilizó un fusil semiautomático tipo AR-15 en el ataque y publicó en Facebook poco antes del tiroteo que: “Voy a disparar a una escuela primaria”.

El superintendente del distrito escolar, Hal Harrell, contuvo las lágrimas mientras hablaba de los niños y sus profesoras.

“Por sus sonrisas angelicales, se puede ver que eran muy queridos”, dijo Harrell sobre los niños. “Que les encantaba venir a la escuela, que eran personas preciosas”.

Las dos profesoras “se volcaron en cuerpo y alma” a su trabajo, añadió Harrell.

La maestra Eva Mireles, de 44 años, fue recordada como una madre y esposa cariñosa. “Era aventurera. Definitivamente, diría cosas maravillosas sobre ella. Se le va a extrañar mucho”, dijo su familiar Amber Ybarra, de San Antonio.

Al comienzo del año escolar, Mireles publicó una carta en el sitio web de la escuela con la que se presentó a sus nuevos estudiantes.

“¡Bienvenidos al 4to grado! ¡Tenemos un año fantástico por delante!”, escribió la docente, señalando que había estado enseñando desde hacía 17 años. Dijo que le encantaba correr y caminar, y que tenía una “familia solidaria, divertida y amorosa”. Mencionó que su esposo era un policía del distrito escolar y que tenían una hija adulta y tres “amigos peludos”.

La otra profesora que perdió la vida, Irma García, escribió sobre sus cuatro hijos, incluido uno que estaba en la Infantería de la Marina, en una carta de presentación a la clase. El sobrino de 21 años de edad de García, John Martínez, comentó al diario Detroit Free Press que la familia se esforzaba por comprender que mientras el hijo de García se entrenaba para el combate, era su madre la que moría en un tiroteo.

Familiares de Eliahna García, de 10 años, recordaron el amor que le tenía a su familia.

“Era muy feliz y extrovertida”, comentó la tía de Eliahna, Siria Arizmendi, una profesora de quinto grado en la Escuela Primaria Flores, en el mismo distrito escolar. “Le encantaba bailar y hacer deporte. Le gustaba mucho la familia, le gustaba estar con la familia”, añadió.

Lisa Garza, de 54 años, residente de Arlington, Texas, lloró la muerte de su primo, Xavier Javier López, quien había estado esperando ansioso la llegada del verano para dedicarlo a nadar.

“Era simplemente un niño de 10 años cariñoso que disfrutaba de la vida, sin saber que hoy iba a ocurrir esta tragedia”, apuntó. “Era muy jovial. Le encantaba bailar con sus hermanos y con su madre. Esto nos ha afectado a todos”.

Lamentó lo que calificó como una regulación de armas poco estricta.

“Deberíamos tener más restricciones, especialmente si estos chicos no están en sus cabales y todo lo que quieren hacer es herir a la gente, especialmente a niños inocentes que van a las escuelas”, afirmó Garza.

Arizmendi también habló molesta, y entre lágrimas, sobre la forma en la que el agresor logró obtener un arma.

“Es difícil de entender o explicar con palabras”, dijo. “Simplemente no sé cómo la gente puede vender ese tipo de armas a un joven de 18 años de edad. ¿Para qué la va a usar si no es para eso?”, cuestionó.

Mientras Ybarra se preparaba para donar sangre para los heridos, reflexionó cómo nadie pudo detectar posibles problemas en el atacante a tiempo para frenarlo.

“Para mí, se trata más bien de concienciar sobre la salud mental”, afirmó Ybarra, una coach de bienestar que estudió en la primaria Robb. “Alguien podría haber visto un cambio drástico antes de que ocurriera algo así”.

Incluso para los sobrevivientes había dolor.

Law enforcement shared this photo of 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, a student at Uvalde High School, who has been identified as the alleged gunman in the Robb Elementary School shooting on May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. (Photo: ABC News)

Lorena Auguste estaba como maestra sustituta en la Escuela Secundaria Uvalde cuando se enteró del tiroteo. Comenzó a enviar mensajes frenéticamente a su sobrina, una estudiante de cuarto grado en la primaria Robb, hasta que su hermana le informó que la pequeña estaba bien.

Auguste dijo que su sobrina le preguntó esa noche: “Tía, ¿por qué nos hacen esto? Somos buenos niños, no hacemos nada malo”.

La funeraria Hillcrest Memorial, que está frente a la escuela, señaló en una publicación en Facebook que ayudará a las familias de las víctimas ofreciendo sus servicios gratuitamente. Se crearon páginas en GoFundMe para muchas de las víctimas, incluida una en nombre de todas las víctimas que ha recaudado más de 1,5 millones de dólares.



*Article written by Elliot Spagat and Acacia Coronado. Associated Press writers Jim Vertuno in Uvalde, Texas; Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas; Jamie Stengle in Dallas; Don Babwin in Chicago; Stephen Groves in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Roxana Hegeman in Wichita, Kansas; John Hanna in Topeka, Kansas; Jill Zeman Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas; Bernard Condon in New York; and Christopher Weber in Los Angeles contributed.

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