What we know about the victims of the Uvalde, Texas school massacre

Tuesday’s massacre – the deadliest US school shooting in almost a decade – took place just days before the end of the school year at Robb Elementary School. What should have been a time of celebration soon turned into one of grief and agony.

Families gathered at a civic center overnight to learn whether their loved ones had survived. Some had the grim task of providing DNA swabs to help investigators determine whether their family members was among the victims.

Families gathered at a civic center overnight to learn whether their loved ones had survived. (AP)

As of Wednesday afternoon (Thursday morning AEST), at least six families said they had received devastating news.

Here’s what friends and relatives want everyone to remember about the people they lost:

For seven hours, Angel Garza scrambled to find his 10-year-old daughter, Amerie Jo. He pleaded for the public’s help on Facebook.

“I don’t ask for much or hardly even post on here but please It’s been seven hours and I still haven’t heard anything on my love,” Garza wrote. “Please help me find my daughter.”

The father of one of the children killed in Tuesday's school shooting has identified his daughter as 10 year-old Amerie Jo Garza
The father of one of the children killed in Tuesday’s school shooting has identified his daughter as 10 year-old Amerie Jo Garza. At least 19 students and 2 adults were killed Tuesday in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, roughly 80 miles west of San Antonio, CNN has reported. Angel Garza took to Facebook early Wednesday morning to share that his daughter had been killed in the shooting at her elementary school. (Angel Garza)

On Wednesday morning, Garza gave a heartbreaking update.

“Thank you everyone for the prayers and help trying to find my baby. She’s been found. My little love is now flying high with the angels above,” Garza posted.

“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.”

A fourth-grade teacher, Eva Mireles, was also killed at the school, her aunt Lydia Martinez Delgado told CNN.

Mireles had been an educator for 17 years. Erica Torres recalled the care with which Mireles treated her son Stanley, who has autism, while he was in her third- and fourth-grade classes. In an effort to stop him from wandering around the school, Mireles put Stanley in charge of rounding up students to get to class.

Fourth-grade teacher, Eva Mireles, was also killed at the school, her aunt Lydia Martinez Delgado told CNN
Fourth-grade teacher, Eva Mireles, was also killed at the school, her aunt Lydia Martinez Delgado told CNN (Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District)

“She made you feel like she was only teaching your child,” Torres said. “Like there’s no other students but him. She made you feel so good.”

In her spare time, Mireles enjoyed running, hiking, biking and being with her family, according to her profile on the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District’s website.

“I’m furious that these shooting(s) continue,” the aunt told KSAT. “These children are innocent. Rifles should not be easily available to all. This is … my hometown, a small community of less than 20,000.”

Just hours before he was killed, 10-year-old Xavier Lopez was lauded at Robb Elementary’s honor roll ceremony, his mother, Felicha Martinez, told The Washington Post.

Martinez took a photo of her fourth-grader and told him she was proud of him and loved him. That was the last moment she was to share with her “mama’s boy.”

Xavier Lopez was 10 years old
Xavier Lopez was 10 years old (Family via Washington Post)

“He was funny, never serious, and his smile …” Felicha Martinez told the Post, her voice breaking. “That smile I will never forget. It would always cheer anyone up.”

Just a few days shy of completing his last year of elementary school, Xavier was counting down to his official move up the academic ladder into Flores Middle School in Uvalde, his mother told the Post.

“He really couldn’t wait to go to middle school,” she said.

The family of 10-year-old Uziyah Garcia told CNN that their fourth-grader was among those killed at Robb Elementary.

Uziyah was “full of life,” according to an uncle, Mitch Renfro. He loved video games and anything with wheels, and leaves behind two sisters.

“The sweetest little boy that I’ve ever known,” Garcia’s grandfather Manny Renfro told CNN affiliate KSAT. “I’m not just saying that because he was my grandkid.”
Uziyah Garcia was 10 years old.
Uziyah Garcia was 10 years old. (Mitch Renfro)

Uziyah last visited his grandfather in San Angelo during his spring break. Renfro recalls tossing around a football with him and how quickly his grandson took to the sport.

“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.”

Jose Flores Jr., 10, was also among those killed at Robb Elementary, his father Jose Flores Sr. told CNN.

Photos of Robb Elementary School victim Jose Flores Jr., 10
Photos of Robb Elementary School victim Jose Flores Jr., 10 (Jose Flores Sr.)

Flores described the fourth grader as an amazing kid and big brother to his two siblings. Jose loved baseball and video games.

“He was always full of energy,” Flores said. “Ready to play till the night.”

Felix and Kimberly Rubio had just celebrated their daughter Lexi’s achievements at school before she was killed.

Lexi, who was 10 years old and in the fourth grade, had made the All-A honor roll and received a good citizen award, her parents told CNN.

“We told her we loved her and would pick her up after school. We had no idea this was goodbye,” Kimberly Rubio wrote in a post on Facebook.
Courtesy: Felix and Kimberly Rubio Undated family photos of Lexi Rubio, who was killed in Tuesday's shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
Lexi Rubio had just made the honour roll before she was killed in Tuesday’s shooting in Uvalde, Texas. (Felix and Kimberly Rubio via CNN)

The parents told CNN they were proud of their daughter.

“She was kind, sweet, and appreciated life. She was going to be an all-star in softball and had a bright future, whether it’s sports or academic. Please let the world know we miss our baby.”

Community shattered by sudden tragedy

As the last day of school was drawing near, Robb Elementary students were celebrating with special themed dress days, including Tuesday’s theme of “Footloose and Fancy.” Students were encouraged to come dressed in nice outfits and show off their fun footwear, according to a post on the school’s Facebook page.

But by Tuesday afternoon, shaken students were being bused to the civic center-turned-reunification site. As the evening stretched on, some parents began to learn their young children had not survived.

A woman cries Tuesday May 24, 2022 as she leaves the Uvalde Civic Center.
The civic center quickly became the epicenter for families looking for their children, and scenes of devastation began to play out as victims were identified. (AP)

“We see people coming out just terrorised. They’re crying one by one. They’re being told that their child has passed on,” state Sen. Roland Gutierrez told CNN Tuesday night from the site.

As news of the shooting broke in Uvalde, Robb Elementary parents were told students were being taken to the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center, according to a post on the school district’s Facebook page. The civic center quickly became the epicenter for families looking for their children, and scenes of devastation began to play out as victims were identified.

Parents were asked for DNA swabs to confirm their relationships to their children and instructed to wait an hour for an answer, at least four families told CNN.

Equipment from the San Antonio Fire Department is parked outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
a grandmother who had just driven from San Antonio said she would not stop praying for her 10-year-old granddaughter as they waited for the DNA results (AP)

A father, who had just learned his child was dead, fought tears as several of his cousins embraced him. A few yards away, a grandmother who had just driven from San Antonio said she would not stop praying for her 10-year-old granddaughter as they waited for the DNA results.

Inside, city workers handed out pizza, snacks and water to families. Some parents waited in silence, while others sobbed quietly as a group of children sat on the floor playing with teddy bears. A group of local pastors and chaplains arrived and offered their support to the families.

By Tuesday night (Wednesday evening AEST), some families had still not been reunited with their children and had no news, said Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde.

“We have people that still have not had their children identified,” he told CNN Tuesday night. “Right now, they’re still doing a DNA match.”

Grief counseling and support for students are available at the Uvalde civic center, the district said (CNN)

The school district canceled the rest of its school year, which was set to end Thursday, in response to the shooting, Superintendent Hal Harrell said. Grief counseling and support for students are available at the Uvalde civic center, the district said.

“It’s a small town,” said Lalo Diaz, a county justice of the peace. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows each other, Diaz said, noting he knows the families of several victims.

In his civic role, Diaz coordinates processing of the deceased. Until now, he’s only dealt at once with four people killed in a car crash, he said.

“When I have to sign 21 death certificates,” Diaz said, “my heart will drop.”

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