A devastated community divided on gun control: Parents of Uvalde shooting victims call for teachers to be armed – while others call for ban on AR-15s as they grieve their murdered children
The devastated community of Uvalde, Texas, is divided on gun control in the wake of the elementary school massacre.
Parents and teens from the local high school are pleading for some restrictions to stop more teens like Salvador Ramos from buying an AR-15 just a day after his 18th birthday and using it to murder 19 children and two teachers.
Meanwhile, the heroic, off-duty border patrol agent who evacuated several children including his own eight-year-old daughter from Robb Elementary School, is urging for teachers to be trained and armed so they can protect their students in case of the inevitable next tragedy.
Jacob Albarado, a father of three, who had borrowed a shotgun from his barber and rushed into the school after learning about the shooting while in the barber’s chair, called for more guards at schools and training for educators.
‘Only time will heal their pain and hopefully changes will be made at all schools in the U.S. and teachers will be trained & allowed to carry in order to protect themselves and students,’ he said.
But parents of children at Robb Elementary School – many of whom tragically lost their children – are calling for gun control.
Sheriff’s deputy and parent Felix Rubio, who was one of the responding law enforcement officers, spoke to CNN and called for gun control measures to try and prevent other parents suffering losses like his.
His daughter Lexi, 10, was among 19 children murdered by shooter Salvador Ramos.
‘All I can hope is that she’s just not a number. This is enough. No one else needs to go through this. We never needed to go through this, but we are.’
‘I’ve had enough with guns,’ he said in a live interview with CNN the day after the attack. ‘I don’t want my daughter’s name to be just another name.’
When asked what issues he would like to see resolved following the shooting, Felix said: ‘Violence, guns. I’m a cop. I’m a deputy here in Uvalde County. This is enough.’
Mom Ana Rodriguez, who lost her 10-year-old daughter Maite Rodriguez in the shooting, said that the gun laws in the state are insane.
Mom Ana Rodriguez, who lost her 10-year-old daughter Maite Rodriguez in the shooting, said that the gun laws in the state are insane (pictured together)
Felix Rubio is snapped cradling his wife Kimberly after learning their daughter Lexi was among 10 children killed at Robb Elementary School in Texas Tuesday
Rubio’s beloved daughter Lexi, 10, (pictured) was among 19 children murdered at Robb Elementary School by shooter Salvador Ramos
Jacob Albarado,(left) a father of three, who had borrowed a shotgun from his barber and rushed into the school after learning about the shooting while in the barber’s chair, called for more guards at schools and training for educators.
‘How can an 18 year-old buy an AR but he cannot buy beer? That is absolute insanity,’ Rodriguez, 35, told Rolling Stone.
‘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.
The grieving mother also slammed Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott who has said he will not consider toughening gun laws following the shooting.
‘He is an absolute embarrassment to Texas,’ she says of Abbott, adding that due to the state’s gun laws the massacre was ‘totally predictable.’
Texas, like the vast majority of US states, allows 18-year-olds to purchase long guns, including shotguns and rifles.
The day after the shooting Abbott said that tightening gun laws is not a ‘real solution’ to gun violence because places like New York and Chicago see more shootings than schools in Texas.
‘I know people like to try to oversimplify this,’ Abbott, shutting down the prospects of any new gun laws. ‘There are ‘real gun laws’ in NY. There are real gun laws in California I hate to say this but there are more people who were shot every weekend in Chicago than in schools in Texas.’
Abbott laid the blame for the school shooting not on the state’s lax gun laws but on the ‘mental health crisis’ it was facing.
‘We as a state, we as a society, need to do a better job with mental health. Anybody who shoots somebody else has a mental health challenge. Period,’ Abbott said.
Many local parents and law enforcement disagreed with Abbott however.
Mourners gathered to grieve together after the horrific tragedy at the Texas elementary school in which 19 children and two teachers were killed
The tight-knit Latino community of Uvalde was wracked with grief Wednesday after a teen in body armor marched into the school and killed 19 children and two teachers
Students of Uvalde High School, who were put on lockdown as the shooting took place at Robb Elementary, have also called for stricter gun laws.
One of those students was 15-year-old freshman Marilyn Olivarez who said when lockdown was announced on Tuesday she was crammed in her classroom for four hours, texting her mother and younger siblings who were at Robb Elementary.
‘It’s just ridiculous,’ Olivarez told the Texas Tribune. ‘You never hear this in any other country.’
Uvalde High School senior Jaime Cruz agreed, saying: ‘Change needs to happen.’
A day after the shooting Enrique Morones, of social justice group Gente Unidas, held a vigil for the murdered students and teachers.
He said the only solution to the issue is some type of gun law reform.
‘There’s not one answer of course, but background checks, limiting the type of weapons that people can buy, we know that criminals unfortunately figure out a way, but it takes a lot of guns off the streets,’ he told ABC News 10.
But it appears that state leaders are going in the opposite direction, instead pushing to arm teachers.
‘We can’t stop bad people from doing bad things,’ Paxton told Fox News. ‘We can potentially arm and prepare and train teachers and other administrators to respond quickly. That, in my opinion, is the best answer.’
On Thursday Wisconsin’s Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told AP he was open to the idea of arming teachers following the Texas shooting.
Vos said finding ways to better protect schools, including with additional police, armed security guards and armed teachers, ‘should be on the table.’
‘It’s not just teachers. It’s making sure that people who are inside of school have the ability to defend themselves,’ Vos said. ‘But the idea that we are going to take a heinous act like this and find some kind of logical way to prevent it 100% of the time, I just don’t see that occurring.’
But according to the president of the National Education Association- one of the largest teacher unions in the country- bringing more guns into schools is the opposite of what is needed to address the school shooting problem, Washingtonexaminer.com reported.
‘Our public schools should be the safest places for students and educators, yet the gunshots from a lone shooter armed with a military-grade weapon shattered the physical safety of the school community in Uvalde, Texas,’ NEA president Becky Pringle’s statement read. ‘The powerful gun lobby and their allies did not waste a second after the horrific killing of 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School to call for arming teachers. Bringing more guns into schools makes schools more dangerous and does nothing to shield our students and educators from gun violence. We need fewer guns in schools, not more. Teachers should be teaching, not acting as armed security guards.’
A sentiment echoed by American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten in a tweet the day after the shooting.
‘I don’t know how many more times I have to say this: The answer to gun violence is not ‘more guns,” Weingarten tweeted. ‘No amount of training can prepare a teacher to go up against an AR-15. An educator’s job is to educate.’
In 2018 Uvalde school leaders held a meeting asking for community feedback on school safety measures.
One suggestion was following the model of two area school districts who had two designated staff members trained in the use of firearms on campus.
‘We hope that having designated first responders throughout the district will serve as a deterrent to anyone thinking of threatening us in any way and would also allow us to protect our students and staff if we were to experience an event involving an active shooter,’ Nueces Canyon Consolidated Independent School District superintendent Kristi Powers, said.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott (pictured) said tightening gun laws is not a ‘real solution’ to gun violence because places like New York and Chicago see more shootings than schools in Texas
People visit memorials for victims of Tuesday’s mass shooting at a Texas elementary school
But on Thursday Texas cops revealed that there was no armed guard on campus when the gunman arrived on Tuesday which allowed him to walk ‘unobstructed’ through an unlocked door and into the building and carry out his attack.
At a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Victor Escalon, the Regional Director for the Department of Public Safety South Texas, said Salvador Ramos walked through an unlocked door ‘unobstructed’ and that there was no guard ‘readily available’ contradicting earlier reports that he fired at a school resource officer.
Ramos entered the school at 11.40am, 12 minutes after crashing his truck outside the school and walking towards campus with his AR-15. That is when police were alerted to the scene.
At 11.44am, the first cops entered the school. Ramos shot at them and they retreated.
It’s unclear if he had already shot the kids and teachers in the fourth grade classroom by then, or if he went on to attack them after those cops retreated.
It then took an hour for specialized SWAT teams to arrive. At 1.06pm, the incident was declared over after Ramos was shot dead.
In the meantime, 150 cops were gathering outside. Some of them were filmed pinning parents to the floor and some were even placed in handcuffs, according to witnesses.
‘He walked in unobstructed initially. He was not confronted by anybody. Four minutes later, law enforcement are coming in to solve this problem,’ Escalon said.
When the first cops entered the building, he fired at them, injuring at least two of them. The cops then retreated, leaving him to carry on with his killing.
‘They hear gunfire, they take rounds, get back and take cover… they don’t make entry initially because of the gunfire they are receiving. They are calling for additional resources, tactical teams, we needed body armor, precision rifles, negotiators.
‘They are also evacuating students. There’s a lot going on,’ he said.
On Thursday, Escalon claimed that most of the shooting occurred early in the standoff and that the only shots fired once cops were there were to keep them at bay.
Now, there are questions over why it took so long to catch the gunman and whether or not any of the kids could have been saved.
‘There are a lot of possibilities, there was numerous officers at that classroom. Once we interview all those officers and find out what they were thinking, we’ll have a better idea,’ he said.
Javier Cazares, whose nine-year-old daughter was murdered, says cops were ‘just standing there’ and waiting for protective shields to arrive at the scene before they went in.
‘They said they rushed in and all that, we didn’t see that,’ he told The New York Times, adding that many were ‘just standing there.’
‘There were plenty of men out there armed to the teeth that could have gone in faster. This could have been over in a couple minutes,’ he said.
He added that police were faster to escort Beto O’Rourke out of the press conference yesterday when he started heckling the governor than they were to get into the school.
PICTURED: The 19 children and two teachers butchered in Texas elementary school shooting
Amerie Jo Garza, 10
Amerie Jo Garza (right)
Amerie Jo Garza, a fourth grader at Robb Elementary, was one of 19 students confirmed to be killed Tuesday morning by Ramos, who cops say was carrying a handgun and an AR-15 during the attack that also killed two teachers in the classroom.
Her grandmother, Berlinda Irene Arreola, said the 10-year-old was killed as she tried to phone 911 while sitting next to her best friend, who ended up ‘covered in her blood.’
‘So the gunman went in and he told the children, ‘You’re going to die,’ Berlinda told The Daily Beast.
‘And [Amerie] had her phone and she called 911. And instead of grabbing it and breaking it or taking it from her, he shot her. She was sitting right next to her best friend. Her best friend was covered in her blood.’
Uziyah Garcia, 8
Uziyah Garcia, the youngest victim at age eight, was also killed in the attack.
The child’s family announced he was killed hours after announcing he was among the many children unaccounted for following the tragedy.
The boy’s grandfather, Manny Renfro, broke the news early Wednesday after being notified by authorities.
‘[He was] the sweetest little boy that I’ve ever known,’ Renfro said. ‘I’m not just saying that because he was my grandkid.’
Renfro recalled how Uziyah last visited him in San Angelo over spring break.
‘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,’ the grieving grandad said.
‘There were certain plays that I would call that he would remember and he would do it exactly like we practiced.’
Makenna Elrod, 10
Makenna Lee Elrod
Makenna Elrod, 10, had also been among the missing in the chaos that followed the massacre, with her father, Brandon Elrod telling reporters at the time he feared ‘she may not be alive.’
Her death was eventually confirmed by a family friend on Wednesday. ‘It’s pretty sad what this world’s coming to,’ the girl’s father told local outlet KTRK after the shooting.
A mother of one of Makenna’s friends lamented the loss in a post to Facebook.
‘Sweet Makenna Rest in Paradise!! My heart is shattered as my daughter Chloe loved her so much!!’ the mom wrote. A relative Wednesday confirmed that the girl had been among the victims.
Xavier Lopez, 10
Xavier Lopez, 10, was the first student victim to be identified as one of Ramos’ victims.
The child’s mother, Felicha Martinez, told the Washington Post Tuesday that just hours before the massacre, the mom had been at the school to see her son participate an honor roll ceremony.
She took a picture showing her son showing off his certificate.
In the last exchange she had with the child, the mom heartbreakingly told the boy that she was proud of him and that she loved him, giving him a hug goodbye – not knowing it would be the last time she would see him alive.
‘He was funny, never serious and his smile… that smile I will never forget,’ she recalled after learning of his death from police. ‘It would always cheer anyone up.’
The boy’s cousin, Lisa Garza, 54, of Arlington, said Xavier enjoyed swimming and had been looking forward to the summer.
‘He was just a loving 10-year-old little boy, just enjoying life, not knowing that this tragedy was going to happen today,’ she said.
‘He was very bubbly, loved to dance with his brothers, his mom. This has just taken a toll on all of us.’
Amelia Sandoval, Lopez’s grandmother, said: ‘It’s just so hard… you send your kids to school thinking they are going to make it back home but they’re not.’
Eliahana Torres, 10
Eliahana Cruz Torres
Eliahana Cruz Torres, 10, had also been missing for hours until she was confirmed to be among the dead.
Adolfo Cruz, her great-grandfather, said she didn’t want to attend school the day of the shooting – but was told by her family that she had to attend.
He said he remained outside the school gates throughout the night until he leanrned of her fate from local authorities.
‘I hope she is alive,’ he said at the time.
Torres was an avid baseball player and played the sport in a local little league.
Ellie Lugo, 10
Ellie Lugo was named as a victim of Tuesday’s attack by her parents, with Steven Garcia and Jennifer Lugo confirming her death several hours after she was listed among the missing.
‘It’s hard to issue out a statement on anything right now my mind is going at 1000 miles per hour… but I do wanna send our thoughts and prayers to those who also didn’t make it home tonight!!! Our Ellie was a doll and was the happiest ever,’ Steven Lugo said Wednesday.
‘Mom and Dad love you never forget that and please try and stay by our side.’
Nevaeh Bravo, 10
Nevaeh Bravo was confirmed to be among the dead late Tuesday, after her cousin posted on social media following the shooting to ask for helping the girl.
Around 9 pm, she broke the news on Twitter.
‘Unfortunately my beautiful Nevaeh was one of the many victims from todays tragedy,’ she wrote.
Sje said the schoolchild was ‘flying high’ and asked for the family to be kept in people’s prayers
‘Our Nevaeh has been found. She is flying with the angels above. We love you Navaeh very much princess.’
‘Thank you for the support and help,’ she wrote. ‘Rest in peace my sweet girl, you didn’t deserve this.’
Bravo’s age could not immediately be confirmed.
Tess Marie Mata
Tess Marie Mata
Tess Marie Mata was also among those to perish in the attack, her sister, Faith Mata, revealed in a post to Facebook Wednesday.
‘I honestly have no words just sadness, confusion, and anger,’ she wrote.
‘I’m sad because we will never get to tag team on mom and dad again and tell each other how much we mean to each other, I’m confused because how can something like this happen to my sweet, caring, and beautiful sister, and I’m angry because a coward took you from us.’
Photos shared with the post showed Tess smiling in a baby photo, snuggling with a cat, doing gymnastics, flashing a peace sign, and posing in front of a large heart mural.
‘Sissy I miss you so much, I just want to hold you and tell you how pretty you are, I want to take you outside and practice softball, I want to go on one last family vacation, I want to hear your contagious laugh, and I want you to hear me tell you how much I love you,’ she wrote.
Her age could not immediately be confirmed.
Rojelio Torres, 10
Rojelio Torres, 10, was initially reported missing by his father, but on Wednesday was confirmed dead by his family.
A person who said she was the boy’s cousin wrote on Twitter: ‘It breaks my heart to say my rojelio is now with the angels I’ll forever miss you and love you my angel.’
The child’s father , Federico Torres, told Houston reporters that he was at work when he learned about the shooting and immediately raced to the school.
‘They sent us to the hospital, to the civic center, to the hospital and here again, nothing, not even in San Antonio,’ he said. ‘They don’t tell us anything, only a photo, wait, hope that everything is well.’
Nearly half a day later, cops broke the news to the boy’s family.
‘Our entire family waited almost 12 hours since the shooting to find out Rojelio Torres, my 10-year-old nephew, was killed in this tragedy,’ Torres’ aunt, Precious Perez, told KSAT. ‘We are devastated and heartbroken. Rojer was a very intelligent, hard-working and helpful person. He will be missed and never forgotten.’
Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10
Jayce Luevanos, 10, died in the shooting along with his ten-year-old cousin, Jailah, the child’s mother said Wednesday.
In a Facebook post, uncle Unberto Gonzalez shared photos of both kids while offering a touching tribute.
‘My babies going to miss them like crazy!!!,’ Gonzalez wrote. ‘We luv y’all so much!!! I’m just lost right now!!! Fly high my beautiful Angels!!’
Jailah Nicole Silguero, 10
Jailah Nicole Silguero
Ten-year-old Jailah Nicole Silguero was also killed in the shooting, her mother, Veronica Luevanos, tearfully revealed to Univision Wednesday.
She also lost her 10-year-old nephew Jayce to the tragedy.
She said Jailah loved to dance and film videos on TikTok.
The child reportedly also asked her mom the morning of the shooting if she could stay home from school – a request the now mourning mom rebuffed.
‘I took her to school, but she didn’t want to go. She told her father, ‘Can I stay home?” Luevanos said, noting that it was not a common occurrence for her daughter to make such a request. ‘I think she knew something would happen.’
Luevanos’ mom confirmed the loss on Facebook Wednesday.
‘Fly high my angels. We’re going to miss yall so much,’ wrote Veronica Luevanos – whose dad had died just a week earlier.
‘I’m so heart broken,’ she wrote with a photo of her daughter and nephew.
‘My baby I love u so much … fly high baby girl.’
Alithia Ramirez, 10
Fourth grader Alithia Ramirez was confirmed dead early Wednesday by her father, Ryan Ramirez, who shared a post to Facebook showing the 10-year-old with angel’s wings. He had used the same photo the previous day as he pleaded for help finding her after the massacre
He had heartbreakingly used the same photo the previous day as he desperately pleaded for help finding her after the massacre.
‘Trying to find my daughter Alithia. I called all the hospitals and nothing,’ he wrote at the time.
He also reporters during his frantic search, ‘I’m trying to find out where my baby’s at.’
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10, was another killed by Ramos Tuesday – along with her cousin, who has yet to be identified.
Annabell’s father spent the afternoon after the shooting in frantic search for his daughter.
Speaking to KHOU11 Tuesday, he lamented at how he was at a loss as to what do, having little success with the search.
‘They’re not letting us in at the hospital right now so we don’t know where to go.’
She has since been declared to be among the dead.
Miranda Mathis, 11
Miranda Mathis, 11, was also confirmed as another casualty from the mass shooting early Wednesday, in a Facebook post by an older cousin who earlier that day had posted a desperate plea for help in locating the child.
‘My sweet baby cousin we loved u dearly,’ Deanna Miller wrote alongside a photo of the child with angel wings.
‘I’m so sorry this happen to u baby please keep my family in your prayers,’ she grieved.
Miller’s kids had also been at the school at the time of the shooting, but survived the attack.
One of her sons told her that they were ushered out of a window by staffers during the attack and subsequently ran to a nearby funeral home after ‘he heard the shooter say he was gonna kill all the kids.’
Alexandria ‘Lexi’ Aniyah Rubio, 10
Alexandria Aniyah Rubio
Alexandria Aniyah Rubio – who was better known to friends as ‘Lexi’ – was confirmed dead just before midnight on Tuesday.
The ten-year-old was shot dead just hours after posing for a photo with her parents at the school’s honor roll ceremony.
Kimberly Mata-Rubio, the girl’s mother, wrote of the loss: ‘My beautiful, smart, Alexandria Aniyah Rubio was recognized today for All-A honor roll. She also received the good citizen award. We told her we loved her and would pick her up after school. We had no idea this was goodbye.’
Maite Yuleana was another student to die in the attack that had attended the honor roll ceremony just hours before.
A cousin of the girl’s mother, Ana Rodriguez, announced the loss Wednesday.
‘It is with a heavy heart I come on here on behalf of my cousin Ana who lost her sweet baby girl in yesterday’s senseless shooting.
‘We are deeply saddened by the lose [sic] of this sweet smart little girl…. God bless and may she R.I.P Maite Rodriguez we love you.’
Another relative shared a photo of Maite with her honor roll certificate.
Her age could not immediately be confirmed.
Jose Flores Jr, 10
Jose Flores, 10, was also killed in the shooting after attending the honor roll ceremony, where he was pictured triumphantly clutching a certificate celebrating the accomplishment.
Uncle Christopher Salazar confirmed to the Washington Post Wednesday that his 10-year-old nephew was among the dead, after sharing a tribute to the child on Facebook.
‘I love you and I miss you,’ Salazar wrote in the post.
The boy’s father described Jose to CNN as an amazing boy and big brother to his two younger siblings.
‘He was always fill of energy,’ Jose Flores Sr. said. ‘Ready to play till the night.’
He said the boy loved playing baseball and video games.
Jackie Cazares, 10
Jackie Cazares, 10, was another to be killed during the vicious attack at the elementary school.
Her father Jacinto confirmed she lost her life inside her fourth-grade classroom.
‘My baby girl has been taken away from my family and I,’ the grieving father said in an online post.
‘We’re devastated in ways I hope no one ever goes through. … It hurts us to our souls.’
Cazares said his daughter, who was with her cousin, Annabell Rodriguez, when she died, was ‘full of life and love’.
Layla Salazar, 10
The 10-year-old student was the last of the slaying victims to be identified.
Vincent Salazar told the Philadelphia Inquirer his young daughter was among those killed.
He said she was ‘a lot of fun’ and recalled how they sang along to ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ by Guns ‘n’ Roses whenever he drove her to school.
Irma Garcia, 46 – fourth grade teacher
Irma Garcia, who co-taught with Mireles for the last five year, had been at Robb Elementary for 23 years.
Married to Joe for 24 years, she was a mother of four – Cristian, completing Marine boot camp; Jose, attending Texas State university University; Lyliana, a sophomore in high school; and Alysandra, a 7th grader.
‘My tia did not make it, she sacrificed herself protecting the kids in her classroom, i beg of you to keep my family including all of her family in y’all’s prayers , IRMA GARCIA IS HER NAME and she died a HERO,’ tweeted her nephew John.
‘She was loved by many and will truly be missed.’
She was nominated as teacher of the year for the 2018-19 awards, organized by Trinity University.
Eva Mireles, 44 – fourth grade teacher
Eva Mireles, a fourth grade teacher, was identified by her family as being one of the staff members shot dead. She had worked in education for 17 years.
Her husband Ruben Ruiz, a veteran detective and SWAT team member currently serving as a police officer with the school district, held regular active shooter drills for the schools – most recently at the end of March.