A gunman opened fire in a horrific attack on an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday — killing 19 young students and two teachers who were all inside the same fourth-grade classroom, officials said.
The children, mostly around 10 years old, were slaughtered just days before their summer vacation was set to begin. It was the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook in 2012.
Loved ones have started to identify their children and family members who were killed in the attack.
Amerie Jo Garza, 10
Amerie Jo Garza was killed in the attack. (Angel Garza via Facebook)
Amerie Jo’s grandmother, Berlinda Irene Arreola, told the Daily Beast the young girl started to dial 911 but died before she could call for help.
“So the gunman went in and he told the children, ‘You’re going to die.’ And she had her phone and she called 911,” survivors and authorities told her of her granddaughter, Arreola recalled. “And instead of grabbing it and breaking it or taking it from her, he shot her. She was sitting right next to her best friend. Her best friend was covered in her blood.”
“My little love is now flying high with the angels above,” Amerie Jo’s dad, Angel Garza, wrote on Facebook. “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.”
Eva Mireles, 44
Eva Mireles, 44, was a teacher at the school in Uvalde, Texas. (Robb Elementary)
Eva Mireles, a teacher for around 17 years, was shot and killed at school, her aunt, Lydia Martinez Delgado, said.
“I’m furious that these shootings continue,” Delgado said in a statement. “These children are innocent. Rifles should not be easily available to all. This is my hometown, a small community of less than 20,000. I never imagined this would happen to especially loved ones.”
According to her school bio, her husband Ruben Ruiz was a police officer with the Uvalde school district. She also leaves behind a daughter.
Her daughter Adalynn tweeted a heartbreaking message about her mom’s death, writing the teacher “selflessly jumped in front of her students to save their lives.”
“My heart will forever be broken,” she wrote. “Thank you for being the best mom anyone could ask for. You are so known by many now and I’m so happy that people know your name and that beautiful face of yours and they know what a hero looks like.”
“I will miss you forever.”
Uziyah Garcia, 8
Uziyah Garcia is seen here during spring break in March, just two months before he was killed in a school shooting. (Manny Renfro via AP)
Uziyah was also killed in Tuesday’s mass shooting. His grandfather, Manny Renfro, called him “the sweetest little boy that I’ve ever known” and added, “I’m not just saying that because he was my grandkid.”
He said during Uziyah’s most recent spring break, the two “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. There were certain plays that I would call that he would remember and he would do it exactly like we practiced.”
Irma Garcia, 40s
Irma Garcia was working in the classroom Tuesday when she was shot. (Robb Elementary)
A second teacher in the classroom, Irma Garcia, was also shot dead. Her son, Cristian Garcia, told a local NBC affiliate that a law enforcement officer, who was a friend of his, saw Irma in the classroom shielding students with her body.
According to her school bio, Irma was in her 23rd year of teaching at Robb Elementary and had worked in the same classroom with Eva Mireles for five years. She leaves behind a husband and four children.
Xavier Lopez, 10
Xavier Lopez was just 10 years old when he died on Tuesday. (Laura Mejia via Facebook)
Xavier’s mother was with her son just hours before he was killed in the shooting, ABC News reported.
A cousin of the boy said Xavier’s mother was at an awards ceremony at Robb Elementary roughly one or two hours before the attack unfolded.
Xavier “was just a loving 10-year-old little boy, just enjoying life, not knowing that this tragedy was going to happen today,” a cousin, Lisa Garza, said. “He was very bubbly, loved to dance with his brothers, his mom. This has just taken a toll on all of us.”
Garza went on to criticize lenient 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.”
His relatives set up a GoFundMe that raised more than $70,000 as of Wednesday morning.
Eliahana Cruz Torres, 10
Eliahana Cruz Torres was among those killed on Tuesday. (Facebook)
Eliahana’s grandfather told ABC on Wednesday that his granddaughter was killed in the mass shooting. He rushed to the school after his daughter called him about reports that a gunman opened fire on the school.
“I hope she is alive. They are waiting for an update,” Adolfo Cruz said before later confirming his granddaughter was among the dead.
He had spent more than 10 hours standing outside of the school, not knowing whether she was dead or alive.
Rogelio Torres, 10
Rogelio Torres, 10, died in his classroom in Uvalde. (Facebook)
Young Rogelio died in the attack, according to his father, Federico Torres, who said he was at work before he rushed over to Robb Elementary.
“They sent us to the hospital, to the civic center, to the hospital and here again, nothing, not even in San Antonio,” Torres said. “They don’t tell us anything, only a photo, wait, hope that everything is well.”
He said he was praying Rogelio “is found safe … Please if you know anything, let us know.”
Annabelle Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10
Annabelle Guadalupe Rodriguez was 10 years old. (Family handout via Twitter)
Annabelle’s father, Jessie Rodriguez, confirmed his daughter was killed in the attack — as well as her cousin, who was in the same classroom as her.
He previously told KHOU: “They don’t know where she’s at. … Her name is not here. They’re not letting us in at the hospital right now so we don’t know where to go.”
Desperate for answers, Jessie said he gave a photo of Annabelle to a Texas Ranger who promised to call if he learned anything.
Ellie Garcia, 10
Ellie Garcia’s father described the 10-year-old as a “doll” and said she “was the happiest ever.” (Jennifer Lugo via Facebook)
Ellie’s parents confirmed the young girl died in the shooting. Her mom, Jennifer Lugo, posted to Facebook earlier Tuesday: “I heard shots 2 blocks away from farrar and evans did [the] guy run to Robb ????”
She later shared: “My heart broken. I don’t know what to do. I feel so numb. I miss you baby !!!!!”
Ellie’s father, Steven Garcia, said: “Our Ellie was a doll and was the happiest ever… I was gonna DJ for her at her party like she wanted me too!!! Mom and Dad love you never forget that and please try and stay by our side Amor!!!! Send prayers to all UVALDE we really need it!!!!”
Tess Marie Mata
Tess Marie Mata died in the shooting on Tuesday, her sister said. (Faith Mata via Facebook)
Tess’s sister, Faith Mata, wrote on Twitter that her little sister had died in the attack.“My precious angel you are loved so deeply,” she wrote on Wednesday. “In my eyes you are not a victim but a survivor. I love you always and past forever baby sister, may your wings soar higher then you could ever dream. Till we meet again Tess Marie, love your big sissy.”
Jose Flores Jr., 10
Jose Flores Jr., 10, was among those killed, his father said. (Facebook)
Jose’s father told CNN the 10-year-old student was killed on Tuesday.
“He was always full of energy,” Flores said, adding he loved baseball and playing video games. “Ready to play til the night.”