UVALDE, Texas ( Associated Press) — What should have been the first day of a happy week for students at Robb Elementary School – the start of summer vacation. Instead, of the 19 children killed inside a classroom, the first two were being remembered at the funeral.
The gathering for 10-year-old Amerie Jo Garza was on Monday at the Hillcrest Memorial Funeral Home in Uvalde, Texas, directly across from grade school where children, along with two teachers, were gunned down last week before a gunman. were killed. The rendezvous for another 10-year-old, Maite Rodriguez, was at another funeral home in town.
Over the next two and a half painful weeks, the people of the southwestern Texas town will say goodbye to the children and their teachers, one after another with heartbreaking visits, funerals and burials. As family and friends express their grief, investigators will push for answers on how police reacted to the May 24 shooting, and lawmakers have said they will consider what they did to stop the rampant gun violence across the nation. can go.
This week alone, the funerals of 11 children and teacher Irma Garcia are planned.
On Monday, some mourners at Amerie’s visit wore purples of lilac or lavender – Amerie’s favorite – at the request of their father, ngel Garza. Many took in flowers, including purple ones.
The little girl who loved drawing just got a cellphone for her 10th birthday. A friend of hers told ngel Garza that Amerie tried to use the phone to call the police during the assault in a fourth grade classroom.
Some of Maite’s relatives were also among those mourning the meeting with Amery. Like many people, they were joining the two.
Maite’s family wore a green tie-dye shirt, which depicted Maite with angel wings. Before heading to the funeral home, they stopped at the ditch to see that Metal Gate gunman Salvador Ramos hit a pickup truck before crossing a field and entering the school.
“How did that last so long?” asked Juana Magna, Maite’s aunt.
Hillcrest Memorial itself and the shooting will be linked forever. After crashing into Ramos’ truck, two men at the funeral home heard the sound of the crash and ran to the crash site. Ramos shot him. He missed and both the men made it safe.
Eliana “Ellie” Garcia’s funeral will take place on June 6 – the day she was due to turn 10. Her family was preparing for a big birthday celebration at their grandmother’s house this coming weekend. She was expecting to receive a gift related to the Disney movie “Encanto”.
“She loved that movie and talked about it a lot,” said her aunt, Siria Arizmendi.
Ellie was also quiet around family, but loved doing videos and was already rehearsing the choreography with her older sister for their Quinceanera party — a celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday — even though it was still five. The year was off, Arizmendi said.
Ellie’s older sister is doing fine, Arizmendi said, understanding her family and others face a long road to recovery.
“It’s sad for all the kids,” she said.
Funeral directors, Emblemer and others from all over Texas arrived to help. He told NBC News that Jimmy Lucas, president of the Texas Funeral Directors Association, brought a chariot and volunteered to work as a driver, pitch for services, or do whatever he could. There were other morticians arriving to help the facial reconstruction services given the damage done to the shooter’s military-style rifle.
Governor Greg Abbott, speaking at a Memorial Day event in Longview, urged Texans to keep Uvalde in their prayers.
“What happened in Uvalde was a terrible act of evil,” said Abbott. “And as Texans, we must come together and lift Uvalde up and support him in every way we can. It’s going to take time to heal the devastation that families there have gone through and passing, but be assured, we will not back down until Uvalde recovers. ”
The US Justice Department on Sunday announced a review of the law enforcement response. Police have come under heavy criticism for taking more than an hour to kill Ramos in the surrounding classrooms where he committed the massacre.
Officials revealed on Friday that students and teachers repeatedly pleaded with 911 operators for help as a police commander asked more than a dozen officers to wait in a hallway. Officials said the commander believed the suspect was locked inside an adjacent orbit and there was no longer an active attack.
The revelation raised new questions about whether the lives were lost because officers did not act swiftly to stop the gunman, who was eventually killed by Border Patrol tactical officers.
Jacob Albarado, an off-duty Border Patrol agent who went to school with a shotgun borrowed from his hairdresser, said on Tuesday he was chaotic when it came to looking for his daughter and wife. He said both were physically disabled in the attack.
“For me, I believe everyone out there was doing the best they could given the circumstances,” he said. NBC’s “Today Show.” “I believed that everyone was doing everything in their power.”
Officials have said Ramos had legally purchased two guns shortly before the school attack: an AR-style rifle on May 17 and another on May 20. He was only 18 years old, he was allowed to buy weapons under federal law.
A day after visiting Uvalde and pledging that, “We will,” in response to people chanting, “Do something,” President Joe Biden on Monday expressed some optimism that there will be a need to tighten restrictions on high-powered weapons. There may be some bipartisan support for used by the gunman.
“I think things have gotten so bad that everyone is becoming more rational, at least that’s my hope,” Biden told reporters before honoring the nation’s fall in Memorial Day remarks at Arlington National Cemetery. Told.
“The Second Amendment was never perfect,” Biden said. “You couldn’t buy a cannon when the Second Amendment was passed. You couldn’t go out and buy a lot of weapons.”
A bipartisan group of senators spoke over the weekend to see if they could reach even a modest settlement on gun safety legislation. Sen. Chris Murphy, who is leading the effort, encouraged the state’s “red flag” laws to keep guns away from people with mental health issues, and addressed school safety and mental health resources.
The group will meet again this week under a 10-day deadline to strike a deal.
Nathan Elgren in Uvalde and Jim Salter in O’Fallon, Missouri contributed to this report.
More on the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas: https://apnews.com/hub/uvalde-school-shooting