“Why the kids? In Close-Knit Uvalde, it’s everyone’s loss. – News 24

Everyone in Uvalde, a town of about 15,200 about 60 miles from the southern border of the country, seemed to know one of the children who had been shot. Or had gone to high school with one of the victims’ parents or grandparents. Or had lost several members of his family.

“I lost two,” George Rodriguez, 72, said between sobs as he stepped out of his Domino’s pizza bid on Wednesday afternoon to greet a friend. “My grandson and a niece. I lost two.”

“I know, I know,” replied Mr. Rodriguez’s friend, Joe Costilla. “We also lost our cousin.”

The scene was repeated again and again in the green neighborhoods of modest homes around the elementary school, where about 90 percent of the 500 students are Latin American.

Cousins, aunts and uncles stopped in vans. Crying friends shared long hugs on family lawns. Mourners went from house to house and telephone after phone calls, collecting an unofficial list of the dead before law enforcement officials publicly identified the victims.

“If you drive through town, you can already feel it’s different,” said Liza Cazares, whose husband lost two 10-year-old cousins ​​in the attack. “There are 21 lives we can not get back”

Mr. Rodriguez said he attended counseling sessions at the Civic Center early Wednesday, but it gave him some respite from the pain. Instead, he said he asked his supervisor at Domino’s if he could take a guard.

“I just could not stay home and think about what was happening all day,” Mr Rodriguez said. “I had to work and try to distract my mind.”

He pulled out a picture from his purse showing 10-year-old Jose Flores – “my little Josécito – as Mr Rodriguez said he raised as a grandson. The boy wore a pink T-shirt that read:” Tough guys wear pink “Mr. Rodriguez broke down crying.

Mr. Costilla said he was the step-cousin of Eva Mireles, a beloved teacher at Robb Elementary who became friends with children and adults with equal ease. She enjoyed running marathons and teaching her students in fourth grade, after spending the last 17 years as a teacher, Costilla said. She had a daughter in her twenties and three dogs.

“She was really close to us,” Mr. Costilla. They spent many weekends grilling in his backyard and reportedly lit up the grill again this Memorial Day weekend.

“But now she’s gone,” said Mr. Costilla.

Until this week, Uvalde was perhaps best known as the hometown of actor Matthew McConaughey and John Nance Garner, vice president of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1970, it became a center for anti-discrimination protests after Spanish high school students staged weeks of wandering.

San Juanita Hernandez, 25, a fifth-generation resident, said her teachers often refer to Uvalde’s history and famous names as encouraging her and other students to do great things.

“Any head coach, football coach, would say, ‘Which of you will bring us fame and put us on the map? “said Mrs. Hernandez.

Despite the proximity to the border and the presence of a U.S. customs and border protection station in Uvalde, residents and city officials said most people were born in the area and had deep ties to the region’s breeding history. In the neighborhood around Robb Elementary, more than 40% of residents have lived in the same home for at least 30 years, according to census data.

The common loss that wavered through Uvalde drew people to a fair at. 10 Wednesday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. When they got to the building, Rebecca and Luis Manuel Acosta said the shooting had taken its toll on a community where it appeared there was no more than a few degrees of separation between families.

“I’m so scared,” said Mrs. Acosta, 71. “I feel so much with these mothers.”

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