The students — many fourth graders — and educators were days from the end of the school year when they were fatally shot Tuesday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, west of San Antonio.
“My heart was broken today,” Hal Harrell, the superintendent of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School, told reporters. “We’re a small community. And we’ll need your prayers to get us through this.”
More than a dozen other people, including children and law enforcement officers, were also injured, when a gunman opened fire in a classroom, officials have said.
Relatives have publicly identified the victims of Tuesday’s shooting.
Eva Mireles, who taught fourth grade, had been an educator for 17 years, according to her profile at Robb Elementary.
Mireles was “trying to protect her students” from the gunman, a relative told The New York Times.
That did not surprise Mireles’ cousin, Amber Ybarra.
“She is a hero,” she said Wednesday on NBC’s “TODAY” show.
“Her cooking was amazing. Her laughter was contagious, and she’s going to be missed,” Ybarra added. “She put her heart into everything that she did.”
Mireles’ daughter, Adalynn Ruiz, posted a tribute on Facebook, calling her mother “the half that makes me whole.”
“Mom, I have no words to describe how I feel right now, tomorrow, and for the rest of my life. I never thought that I would be here writing this type of post for you. Mom, you are a hero. I keep telling myself that this isn’t real. I just want to hear your voice,” she wrote Wednesday in a lengthy post.
Ruiz shared memories from watching TikToks with her mom to singing karaoke.
“I want everything back. I want you to come back to me mom. I miss you more than words can explain,” Ruiz posted, adding: “You are so known by many now and I’m so happy that people know your name and that beautiful face of yours and they know what a hero looks like.”
Lydia Martinez Delgado, Mireles’ aunt, said her niece was an avid hiker who took pride in teaching students of Latino heritage, The Times reported.
Martinez Delgado told KSAT-TV of San Antonio that she was “furious” over the shooting and others, saying: “These children are innocent. Rifles should not be easily available to all. This is my hometown a small community of less than 20,000. I never imagined this would happen to especially to loved ones.”
Mireles’ co-teacher, Irma Garcia, was killed, according to her son, Christian Garcia.
Irma Garcia taught at the school for 23 years, according to her school profile. In 2019, she was one of 19 San Antonio-area teachers named a finalist for a Trinity University prize that recognizes excellence in teaching. Garcia had four children and loved barbecuing with her husband and listening to music.
Her son said a friend in law enforcement who was at the scene saw Garcia shielding her students.
Uziyah Garcia was identified by his aunt, Nikki Cross, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported.
His grandfather, Manny Renfro, told the Associated Press that Uziyah was a quick, adept football player, a sport they last played in San Angelo during spring break.
“The sweetest little boy that I’ve ever known,” Renfro told the AP. “I’m not just saying that because he was my grandkid.”
Xavier Lopez, 10, had been at an awards ceremony with his mother hours before the shooting, KSAT reported.
“He was just a loving … little boy, just enjoying life, not knowing that this tragedy was going to happen,” a cousin, Lisa Garza, 54, told the Associated Press. “He was very bubbly, loved to dance with his brothers, his mom. This has just taken a toll on all of us.”
Amerie Jo Garza
The father of Amerie Jo Garza identified her as one of the victims.
She was about to finish fourth grade, according to KSAT.
Amerie Jo was shot dialing 911 in an effort to help her classmates, her grandmother, Berlinda Irene Arreola, told The Daily Beast.
Arreola said authorities and survivors told her that the gunman told the students, “you’re going to die,” and Amerie Jo grabbed her phone to call police. “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,” Arreola said.
Amerie Jo had, earlier in the day, received a certificate for making the honor roll.
“She was the perfect daughter,” Amerie’s father told “TODAY” of his only child.
Jose Flores Jr.
Jose Flores Jr. 10, was among the students killed, his uncle told The Washington Post.
“I’m going to miss you baby Jose, i still can’t believe this happened my heart is broken just hearing them tell us your gone,” Christopher Salazar, the uncle, wrote in a Facebook post. “It hurts me I love you so much and I wish you were still here. I’m going to miss you soo much rest in paradise my beautiful angel.”
Alithia Ramirez, a fourth grade student, was among the victims, her uncle said.
After meeting with Althia’s family, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke said Wednesday that balloons from her 10th birthday were still up in their home.
Alithia was killed yesterday.
Her parents welcomed me into their home today. Balloons from Alithia’s 10th birthday were still up as was her amazing art.
They want the world to know what a beautiful, talented, happy girl she was. They never want this to happen to another kid. pic.twitter.com/6sSVYuB4uR
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) May 25, 2022
“They want the world to know what a beautiful, talented, happy girl she was,” O’Rourke said. They never want this to happen to another kid.”
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10, a third grade student was killed, family members told KHOU of Houston.
Her second cousin, Jacklyn Cazares, was also among the students who died, the AP reported.
Eliahana Cruz Torres
Eliahana Cruz Torres, 10, was confirmed dead, her grandfather, Adolfo Cruz, told ABC News.
Eliahna “Ellie” Garcia
Eliahna “Ellie” Garcia, 9, was also confirmed to be another victim, her parents told NBC News.
“I won’t see my daughter again,” Ellie’s father said on the “TODAY” Show.
“Sweetest sweetest girl you ever, ever had the chance to meet,” he said. “And I had the honor of calling her my daughter.”
“She loved to dance, she loved to have fun,” he said. “She loved ramen noodles and she just loved life in general.”
Ellie’s family said she was looking forward to her 10th birthday party, and reading a scripture in church on Sunday.
The scripture was Deuteronomy 6:18: “Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that it may go well with you …”
The mother of another victim, Rojelio Torres, described the 10-year-old as a “very smart and loving child” in an interview with ABC News.
Jacklyn Cazares, also 10, died in the shooting, according to her father, Javier Cazares.
“Taken out of arms and lives, in this freaking cowardly way, so young, so innocent, full of life and love,” he wrote on Facebook. “It hurts us to our souls.”
Cazares told reporters that his daughter was a firecracker, who had recently made her First Communion.
“She was full of love and full of life,” he said. “It comforts me a little bit that she would be the one to help her friends in need.”
Cazares told The Associated Press that he went straight to the school when he heard about the shooting. When he arrived, police were only just assembling outside.
He suggested to those around him that they go in to try to stop the shooter.
“Let’s just rush in because the cops aren’t doing anything like they are supposed to,” he said. “More could have been done.”
“They were unprepared,” he added.
Jailah Nicole Silguero and Jayce Carmelo Luevanos
Two cousins, Jailah Nicole Silguero and Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, were also killed, their cousin told ABC News.
“They were nothing but loving baby angels, always had a smile on their face just full of life,” the cousin said in a statement to the network. “I can’t believe this happened to our angels.”
Alexandria “Lexi” Aniyah Rubio
Alexandria “Lexi” Aniyah Rubio is among the dead, her mother, Kimberly Mata-Rubio, said.
Her mother and father, Felix Rubio, told CNN that on the morning of the shooting, they celebrated her making the honor roll and earning a good citizen award.
“We told her we loved her and would pick her up after school,” Kimberly Mata-Rubio wrote on Facebook, according to CNN. “We had no idea this was goodbye.”
Felix Rubio, a deputy with the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office, was one of many law enforcement officers who responded to the school, he told CNN.
“All I can hope is that she’s just not a number,” he told the network. “This is enough.”
Tess Mata, a 10-year-old fourth grader, was killed in the shooting at Robb Elementary School, her older sister, Faith Mata, told The Washington Post.
Tess loved TikTok dance videos, Ariana Grande, the Houston Astros and getting her hair curled, Faith Mata told the newspaper.
“Sissy I miss you so much,” the older sister wrote on Facebook, according to Reuters.
“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.”
Makenna Lee Elrod
Makenna Lee Elrod was one of the students killed Tuesday, her uncle, Kyle McCullough, said.
In an online fundraiser, Makenna’s aunt, Allison McCullough, described her niece as “beautiful, funny, smart and amazing.”
“She had the biggest heart and loved her family and friends so much,” Allison McCullough said. “Her smile would light up a room. We will carry her in our hearts and we know she is with our Lord and Savior.”
Nevaeh’s death was confirmed by her grandmother, Esmeralda Bravo, who held a photograph of Nevaeh at Wednesday night’s prayer vigil. Nevaeh was 10.
Layla, 11, was killed in the shooting, her father Vincent Salazar confirmed, according to the AP.
An aunt of the shooter called Layla her cousin, but told NBC News the child and gunman were not related.
He said she loved to swim and dance to Tik Tok videos. And she could run. She won six races at the recent field day.
“She was just a whole lot of fun,” he said.
Salazar wrote on Facebook that he and his daughter would “jam” to “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns N’ Roses on the way to school. The song, he said, was the only thing bringing him comfort.
Maite Yuleana Rodríguez
Maite Yuleana Rodríguez died in the shooting Tuesday at Robb Elementary, her uncle, Hector Coronado, said.
Maite was “focused, competitive, smart, bright, beautiful, happy,” her mother, Ana Rodríguez, told the AP.
She wanted to be a marine biologist and had made the honor roll. The day of the shooting, she had been recognized at an assembly, the AP reported.
“She was just so driven. She was definitely special. She was going to be something, she was going to be something very, very special,” her mother told the AP.
Miranda Mathis was among the victims in the shooting, a close family friend, Leslie Ruiz, said.