UVALDE, Texas — The Uvalde community is beginning to say its final goodbye to some of the victims of the mass school shooting. On Monday, visitation was held for two of the 21 people killed last Tuesday at Robb Elementary School.
The school is across the street from Hillcrest Memorial Funeral Home, where 10-year-old Amerie Jo Garza's visitation was held. Garza's family didn't want to speak to the media on Monday, but on Amerie's obituary, they wrote that she had a heart of gold and wanted to be an art teacher one day.
People came from all over the state to pay respects to the victims. One woman from Houston said her pastor's message inspired her and led her to Uvalde to spread a message of hope.
“The family was very open to embrace, you know, our support, and we just said, you know, ‘We’re praying for you and this is what community looks like, to come and just provide support, no matter where you are,’” Pamela Ellis said.
Uvalde residents said support will help the families know they’re not alone.
“We were both born and raised here. We needed to come and pay our respects,” Esther Rubio said.
Rubio attended the visitation for Amerie.
Dorina Davila knows the Garza family indirectly.
“I’m heartbroken. I’m a mom,” Davila said. “These families need to know that they’re not alone, that we stand with them.”
Maite Rodriguez's visitation started later Monday. Maite, 10, was an honor roll student who wanted to become a marine biologist.
Rosaries for Amerie and Maite will be held at 7 p.m. Monday.
What happened at Robb Elementary?
The Justice Department said it will review the law enforcement response to the shooting that left 19 students and two teachers dead. The review comes amid mounting pressure and questions about the shifting and at times contradictory, information of what happened and how police responded.
Three days after the shooting, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety addressed the media and said responding officers made the wrong decision not to breach the classroom sooner.
Authorities say children repeatedly called 911 from inside Robb Elementary School, including a girl who told the dispatcher “Please send the police now."
Nearly 20 officers were in a hallway outside the classrooms for more than 45 minutes before Border Patrol agents used a master key to open a door and confront the gunman.
Initially, Gov. Greg Abbott had praised law enforcement officers for their courageous efforts and quick response. He later backtracked those comments and said he was "misled" and "livid" about being provided with the wrong information.
Abbott said moving forward, he expects all law enforcement leaders working on this investigation to get to the bottom of every fact with absolute certainty.
"There are people who deserve answers the most and those are the families whose lives have been destroyed. They need answers that are accurate and it is inexcusable that they may have suffered from inaccurate information," Abbott said.
- Eva Mireles, 44, was one of the first victims identified in the Uvalde school shooting. She was a fourth-grade teacher.
- Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10, was a third-grader at Robb Elementary. Her cousin, Jackie, was also killed in the shooting.
- Xavier Lopez, 10, had been eagerly awaiting a summer of swimming.
- Layla Salazar, 11, loved to swim and dance to Tik Tok videos.
- Uziyah Garcia, 8, was among those killed.
- Rogelio Torres, 10, was killed in the shooting.
- Eliahna García, 9, died in the shooting.
- Nevaeh Alyssa Bravo, 10, also was killed and her aunt noted Naveah’s first name is Heaven spelled backward. Her cousin, Jailah, was also killed in the shooting.
- Eliahana Cruz Torres, 10, was looking forward to her last softball game of the season before she was killed Tuesday.
- Jailah Nicole Silguero, 10, was among the victims. She was Naveah's cousin.
- Jose Manuel Flores Jr., 10, was helpful around the house and loved his younger siblings. Jose loved baseball and video games and “was always full of energy.”
- Amerie Jo Garza, 10, was a happy child who made the honor roll and loved to paint, draw and work in clay.
- Maranda Mathis, 11, was “very loving and very talkative.”
- Alithia Ramirez, 10, was among the victims.
- Irma Garcia, 48, was also killed in the shooting. She taught at the school for 23 years. According to reports, she died while shielding her students from the shooter.
- Jackie Cazares, 9, was killed in her classroom. She was with a group of five girls, including her second cousin, Annabelle Rodriguez.
- Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10, loved school and was killed in the shooting.
- Makenna Lee Elrod, 10, was also killed in the shooting.
- Tess Marie Mata, 10, loved TikTok dance videos, Ariana Grande, the Houston Astros, and having her hair curled.
- Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, 10, recently made the honor roll with all As and received a good citizen award.
- Maite Rodriguez, 10, especially liked physical education, and after she died, her teacher texted her mother to say she was highly competitive at kickball and ran faster than all the boys.
Who was the gunman?
The 18-year-old shooter is Salvador Ramos from Uvalde. Ramos had hinted on social media that an attack could be coming. Ramos “suggested the kids should watch out.”
Before heading to the school, Ramos shot his grandmother with two military-style rifles he purchased on his birthday.
The attack began about 11:30 a.m. when the gunman crashed his car outside the school and ran into the building, according to Travis Considine, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The motive for the shooting is currently unknown.