Close-Knit Uvalde Community Grieves After School Shooting
ORobb Elementary School in Uvalde is abuzz after 19 children were killed and 2 adults died by a gunman.
To pay respects to the victims of Tuesday’s school shooting, members of the tight-knit community must overcome several obstacles to reach the building. Barricades have been set up around the school and parking spaces are full. An avalanche of media personnel and journalists are stationed in front the school. And then there’s the caution tape wrapped around the perimeter, followed by rows of law enforcement in large white vehicles investigating the crime scene.
Still, over the past day, dozens of people from Uvalde and neighboring towns have made their way past the obstacles to lay flowers on the “Welcome…Bienvenidos” sign perched in front of Robb Elementary.
“We won’t let these babies be forgotten,” one woman says after she and her partner lay their bouquet on the sign.
People of this small community, with a population of approximately 16,000 people, have expressed their sorrow in many ways following the worst school shootings in American history. People are coming together in local churches and at the Uvalde County Fairplex, as well as the Starbucks and community civic centers, to remember and mourn the victims. Some are painting storefront windows with the phrase “Uvalde Strong.” Families and friends are embracing each other, or kneeling in front of the school in prayer.
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By about 7 p.m., the brick “Welcome” sign at Robb Elementary was covered in flowers, candles, and balloons. Dariana Cervantes was thirteen and came to the school with Humberto, her father. “You could have never seen it coming,” she says, her voice shaky. “These kids just went to school thinking it’s a normal day, and then they get their lives taken away.”
Some of the Cervantes family’s friends, Dariana says, were among the panicked parents looking for their missing children on Tuesday night. “To go with no answers to where the kids are…it keeps you imagining and asking what happened,” she says.
When news of the shooting broke, Humberto, who has other young children, says he rushed from work to get to his kids’ elementary school in a different part of town, panicked that they were in danger. Humberto had not realized that the children were on field trips in San Antonio. “We know most of the people who come to this school,” Humberto says. “We see them at the festivals, at the park, at the grocery store.” Everyone in the town, he says, was impacted by the shooting.
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It wasn’t just people from Uvalde who felt anguished after the massacre. On Wednesday afternoon, a group of three friends gathered at the Town Square to hold up signs reading “Uvalde Strong,” “Prayers 4 Uvalde,” and “Remember their names.”
“I don’t want to just be on my phone watching everything come to light,” says Ravenn Vasquez, 21, a graduate of Uvalde High School holding one of the signs. “[We wanted to] do something so that people see us and know that we care.” Though Vasquez grew up going to school in Uvalde, her two friends are from neighboring towns, Knippa and Concan, both in Uvalde County. “One way or another, we’re all connected,” Vasquez says, because the cluster of small towns around Uvalde are all “very, very intertwined.”
On Wednesday night, the Uvalde Consolidated Independence School District hosted a vigil for community members. To provide greater privacy for the mourning community, press were not permitted to attend. The line of cars heading to the vigil stretched back at least 2.5 miles—about half the length of the town.
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