Texas School Massacre Victims Identified as Parents Search for Answers - Rolling Stone
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‘Please Help Us’: Families Broken as Texas School Massacre Victims Identified

“They sent us to a hospital, to the Civic Center, to the hospital, then here again,” father Federico Torres said. “They won’t tell us anything, just a photo and waiting. We’re just waiting for everything to be okay.”

‘Please Help Us’: Texas School Massacre Victims Identified as Worried Parents Still Search for Children‘Please Help Us’: Texas School Massacre Victims Identified as Worried Parents Still Search for Children

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

Shortly after Tuesday’s deadly shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas left 19 students and two teachers dead, Laura Mejia shared a photo of her 10-year-old cousin Xavier Javier Lopez — posing while wearing a yellow soccer jersey at a local Burger King — to Facebook, asking for help locating the boy. “Please help us,” she wrote. Less than an hour later, she’d update her post, revealing that the fourth grader had died. “He has been found, fly high handsome angel,” she wrote. “Til we meet again.” According to San Antonio’s KSAT, Xavier’s mother was with her son at a school awards ceremony just hours before the shooting. It would be the last time she’d see him alive.

Mejia’s post was just one of many shared by parents and family members of Robb Elementary School students across social media in the aftermath of the shooting, each detailing the same heartbreaking story: A child is missing, and no one — neither police nor school officials nor medical personnel — has provided any useful leads. As night fell on Uvalde, some parents were still unable to locate their children. Authorities reportedly told family members a DNA sample would be needed to assist in the identification of victims, and a stream of worried parents were seen filing into the local civic center to get swabbed. Journalists on the scene reported hearing the anguished screams of parents emanating from the building.

For many parents, the hours spent searching remained fruitless. “They sent us to a hospital, to the Civic Center, to the hospital, then here again,” father Federico Torres told KHOU 11 reporter Anayeli Ruiz. “Nothing, in San Antonio — they won’t tell us anything, just a photo and waiting. We’re just waiting for everything to be okay.” In a message to Rolling Stone, Rob Trevino shared that his niece remained among the missing. “Not much to say right now,” he wrote.

While some families continued to wait into the evening, others received the news they had been dreading. The family of 8-year-old Uziyah Garcia paid tribute to the child, with his grandfather Manny Renfro telling the Associated Press that Garcia was the “sweetest little boy.” Uncle Mitch Renfro, who’d posted a photo of Garcia to Facebook just hours earlier, mourned his nephew in a public post, saying the child “was killed by a crazy man.” 

The family of Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10, confirmed her death to KHOU, noting the girl was in the “same classroom as her cousin” during the shooting. Her cousin, whom KHOU did not identify, was also killed in the incident.

Speaking to ABC 13 Houston, Father Brandon Elrod stated he’d been searching for his 10-year-old daughter for hours. “She may not be alive,” he said, holding back tears. His elder daughter, Kadence, would eventually identify her younger sister as one of the victims of Tuesday’s violence. “My baby sister has finally been found in a classroom,” she wrote on Twitter. “All I ask is that you hug your loved ones tonight and tell them you love them, you never know when you won’t have the chance to anymore #EnoughIsEnough.” A Twitter user identified as Tab shared that their young cousin was also among the victims. “Rest in peace my sweet girl, you didn’t deserve this,” they said.

Lydia Salazar Torrez was at her job in San Antonio when she realized several of her nieces and nephews were at Robb Elementary. Eventually she learned her sister Angela’s son, Joevonni Gomez, was among the students who fled the school by running across the street to a neighbor’s house. Another nephew was the last boy that hero fourth-grade teacher Eva Mireles, 44, managed to help out a window before she was shot and killed, Torrez said. One by one, her nieces and nephews were accounted for — until the family’s worst fears were realized. Little Jose Flores Jr., the 10-year-old son of Torrez’s niece Alyssa Rodriguez, had died.

“Jose was the only one who didn’t make it out,” Torrez told Rolling Stone. “It’s horrible. We can’t even believe this has happened. We can’t. It shouldn’t have happened. Jose was nothing but heaven. He’s his mom’s first-born. He was in a good mood all the time, always saying hello to everybody. It’s a tragedy. It’s something that the whole world is never going to forget.”

Early Tuesday evening, Angel Garza opened Facebook and posted a photo of himself and his daughter, Amerie Jo Garza. “I don’t ask for much or hardly even post on here,” he wrote. “It’s been 7 hours and I still haven’t heard anything on my love.” Later that night, U.S. Marshals would tell Garza that his daughter, who had turned 10 just two weeks prior, would not be coming home. “My little love is now flying high with the angels above,” he told ABC News. “Please don’t take a second for granted. Hug your family. Tell them you love them.”

The death of teacher Mireles was confirmed by her family to KSAT Tuesday afternoon. Torrez says Mireles was a hero for helping her nephew escape the fourth-grade classroom. “He was the last little boy she helped out of the window. And then she got shot,” she says.

“It’s all just hitting me. It’s crazy,” Johnny Delgado, Mireles’ cousin, told Rolling Stone. “She was the most outgoing and generous person, always happy. She’d do anything for all the kids she taught and all my little cousins and nieces and nephews.” Delgado described his cousin as a role model in the family. “If you couldn’t find her, she was at the track, running with her husband and her daughter. They always stayed fit, fit, fit. After work, they would go to the track, ride bikes or run a mile or two. They were like a fitness family. That’s how they stayed close,” he says. “She was a little older than me, but she’s always been there for me if I ever needed someone to talk to.”

Family members identified the second adult victim as fourth-grade teacher Irma Garcia, who’d spent her entire 23-year career at Robb Elementary. Garcia and Mireles were co-teachers, according to the school’s website. “She sacrificed herself protecting the kids in her classroom,” a Twitter user who identified himself as Garcia’s nephew said. “She died a HERO. She was loved by many and will truly be missed.”

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

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