First 2 funerals held for children killed in Texas school shooting

It should have been the first day of a joyous week for Robb Elementary School students – the start of summer vacation. Instead, on Monday, the first two of 19 murdered children were commemorated in a classroom during funeral visits.

The gathering for 10-year-old Amerie Jo Garza was at Hillcrest Memorial Funeral Home in Uvalde, Texas, directly across from the elementary school where the children, along with two teachers, were shot and killed last Tuesday. Visit for another 10-year-old, Maite Rodriguez, was at the city’s other funeral home.

Over the next two and a half traumatic weeks, people in the southwest Texas town will bid farewell to the children and their teachers, one heartbreaking visit, funeral and burial after another. As family and friends unleash their grief, investigators will push for answers about how police responded to the shooting, and lawmakers have said they’ll consider what can be done to stem the gun violence permeating the nation. call.

Funerals are scheduled for 11 children and teacher Irma Garcia this week alone.

On Monday, at Amerie’s visit, some mourners, at the request of her father, Angel Garza, wore lilac or lavender shades of purple — Amerie’s favorites. Many carried flowers, including purple.

Flowers, stuffed animals and candles can be seen piled up around the monument. (Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press)

Families attended both services

The little girl who loved to draw had just received a cell phone for her 10th birthday. One of her friends told Angel Garza that Amerie was trying to use the phone to call the police during the attack on her classroom.

Among the mourners at Amerie’s visit were some of Maite’s relatives. Like many people, they were both present.

Maite’s family wore green tie-dye shirts with an image of Maite with angel wings. Before entering the funeral home, they stopped by the ditch to watch gunman Salvador Ramos hit a pickup truck with a metal gate before crossing a field and entering the school.

“How did he walk so long?” asked Juana Magana, Maite’s aunt.

Hillcrest Memorial itself and the shooting will be forever linked. After Ramos vandalized the truck, two men at the funeral home heard the crash and ran to the accident site. Ramos fired at them. He missed and both men managed to get to safety.

Eliahna “Ellie” Garcia’s funeral is on June 6, the day after she would have turned 10. Her family was preparing a big birthday party at her grandmother’s house this weekend. She had hoped to receive gifts related to the Disney movie charm

“She loved that movie and talked about it a lot,” said her aunt, Siria Arizmendi.

VIEW | Ellie’s friend recalls moments of laughter:

First 2 funerals held for children killed in Texas school shooting

Friend of shooting Uvalde wishes change

Bella Barboza, 11, was friends with one of the victims, Ellie Garcia, at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and shared memories she had of Ellie as well as the fear she’d felt since the shooting.

‘Sorry for all children’

Ellie was quiet even around family, but loved making videos and had already rehearsed a choreography for her with her older sister quinceañera party — the celebration of a girl’s 15th birthday — even though it was still five years away, Arizmendi said.

Ellie’s older sister is doing well, Arizmendi said, understanding that their family and others face a long road to recovery.

“It’s just sad for all the kids,” she said.

First 2 funerals held for children killed in Texas school shooting
Photos of some of the victims are seen Monday as part of the memorial outside the school. (Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press)

Funeral directors, embalmers, and others from all over Texas came to help. Jimmy Lucas, president of the Texas Funeral Directors Association, brought a hearse and offered to work as a driver, provide services or do whatever he could, he told NBC News. Other arriving undertakers were there to assist with facial reconstruction services, given the damage caused by the gunman’s military-style rifle.

Governor Greg Abbott, speaking at a Memorial Day event in Longview, urged Texans to keep Uvalde in their prayers.

“What happened in Uvalde was a heinous act of evil,” Abbot said. “And as Texans, we need to come together and lift Uvalde and support them in any way we can. It will take time to heal the devastation the families have gone through and are going through, but rest assured, we won’t budge until Uvalde recovers.”

The U.S. Department of Justice announced a review of law enforcement’s response on Sunday. Police have been heavily criticized for waiting more than 45 minutes to confront Ramos in the adjacent classrooms where he carried out a massacre.

Officials revealed Friday that students and teachers repeatedly begged 911 operators for help, while a police chief told more than a dozen officers to wait in a hallway. Officials said the commander believed the suspect had been barricaded in an adjacent classroom and that there was no longer an active attack.

The revelation raised new questions about whether lives were lost because officers did not act more quickly to stop the gunman, who was eventually killed by border patrol tactical officers.

Biden tells mourners he will do ‘something’ about guns

Authorities have said that not long before the school attack, Ramos legally purchased two weapons: an AR-style rifle on May 17 and a second rifle on May 20. He had just turned 18, which allowed him to buy the guns under federal law.

A day after visiting Uvalde and promising, “We will,” in response to people chanting “something,” “do something,” US President Joe Biden expressed some optimism on Monday that there could be some bipartisan support to tighten the restrictions on the kind of high-powered. weapons used by the shooter.

“I think things have gotten so bad that everyone is getting more rational, at least I hope so,” Biden told reporters before honoring the country’s fallen in Memorial Day remarks at Arlington National Cemetery.

“The Second Amendment was never absolute,” Biden said. “You couldn’t buy a gun when the Second Amendment was passed. You couldn’t go out and buy a lot of guns.”

A bipartisan group of senators spoke this weekend to see if they could reach even a modest compromise on gun safety legislation. Encouraging “red flag” state laws to keep guns away from people with mental health problems, and addressing school safety and mental health issues were on the table, said Sen. Chris Murphy, who leads the effort.

The group will meet again this week with a 10-day deadline to close a deal.

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