Ana Rodriguez lost her only daughter in the horrific mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, this week. She calls it utter madness that the gunman was able to legally purchase two AR-15 rifles the minute he turned 18 this month, but still couldn’t get served at a bar.
“How can an 18 year-old buy an AR but he cannot buy beer? That is absolute insanity,” Rodriguez, 35, tells Rolling Stone.
Speaking in a her first interview since the rampage claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers — including her 10-year-old daughter Maite Rodriguez — the devastated mom says she heard the father of another victim highlight the disparity in the minimum ages for gun buying and drinking in Texas, and she wanted to amplify the message.
“In my opinion, nobody’s brain is fully developed at the age 18. You’re still a child, and what would a child do with an AR? I guess we all know now,” she says.
Rodriguez, who went from planning her daughter’s future to planning her funeral all in the same week, says that even amid her blinding grief, she can see Gov. Greg Abbott’s refusal to even consider stronger gun laws in the aftermath of Tuesday’s tragedy for what it is, inexcusable.
“He is an absolute embarrassment to Texas,” she says of the two-term Republican governor who’s heading into an election against Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke, the former U.S. Representative who interrupted an Abbott press conference Wednesday to call the tragedy “totally predictable” due to lax gun regulation.
Breaking down in sobs as she describes her bright and “empathetic” daughter, Rodriguez says Maite, and everyone killed in the senseless shooting, had so much to offer and deserved so much better.
“Ever since kindergarten, she wanted to be a marine biologist. She was very smart and competitive. She started looking at universities on the internet and had her heart set on Texas A&M in Corpus Christi,” Rodriguez says, marveling at her child’s determination at such a young age.
“She was very charismatic, very loving, giving. She was my very best friend. We did everything together. She was my only girl,” Rodriguez says. “She was a beautiful soul, inside and out. She was definitely way better than I was at that age. I was so proud of her.”
Rodriguez, 35, says her life now will never be the same.
“This has completely, completely destroyed me,” Rodriguez says. “This situation has completely rocked me to my core and my entire family. None of those children deserved what happened. We want to thank the community for everything they’re doing for us. If she could see how much people care for her and these kids, she’d be so happy.”
A relative of Rodriguez, Felix Coronado, set up a GoFundMe to help the family with funeral expenses and time away from work to grieve. Speaking to Rolling Stone on Wednesday, Coronado described Maite as someone who was always looking out for others.
“She was always excited and happy — so much fun to be around. She loved going to the beach,” Coronado, the brother of Maite’s grandfather, says. “We heard from a kid who survived in the room. He told us that she did everything she could to help the other kids.”