Families mourn as names of Texas school shooting victims begin to emerge

Families mourn as names of Texas school shooting victims begin to emerge

Anguish spilled from a local civic center, where families desperately awaited news of their children after a shooter gunned down 19 children and two teachers at a Texas elementary school. Wednesday, the names of those killed in the state’s deadliest school shooting in modern history began to emerge.

At the civic center, one man sobbed into his phone. “She is gone,” he said. A woman cried, yelling and shaking her fist. Families waited overnight, praying together and providing DNA samples to authorities to help find their children.

The agonized screams of family members could be heard from the parking lot outside.

Social media was flooded with images of smiling students as loved ones searched for their children and mourned the ones they lost.

The shooting shattered the small, close-knit community of Uvalde, where about 82% of the city’s population is Latino, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The site of the massacre, Robb Elementary school, has an enrollment of just under 600 students and includes second through fourth grades.

GoFundMe has organized a centralized hub of verified donation pages for victims.

LIVE UPDATES: 19 children, 2 teachers dead after school shooting in Texas

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Here’s what we know about the victims of the mass shooting: 

Eva Mireles

Loved ones remembered fourth grade teacher Eva Mireles, 44, as a loving mother and wife, an adventurous spirit and a dedicated teacher.

Mireles was an educator for 17 years, according to her online school profile. She also loved running, hiking and biking, and had a “supportive, fun, and loving family” that included a police officer with the Uvalde school district, a recent college graduate daughter, and three “furry friends” – Callie, Kane and Koda.

Amber Ybarra, a 34-year-old relative of Mireles from San Antonio, called the teacher adventurous.

“I would definitely say those wonderful things about her,” Ybarra said. “She is definitely going to be very missed.”

Her aunt, Lydia M. Delgado, told a local NBC News station that Mireles was an avid hiker, “the life of the party,” and an educator who “took pride in teaching mostly students of Latino heritage.”

Audrey Garcia, a parent of one of Mireles’s former students, thanked the teacher for supporting her daughter Gabby, now 23, when she was in third grade.

In a Twitter tribute, Garcia called Mireles a “beautiful person & dedicated teacher.”

“There are no words,” she wrote.

Eva Mireles was identified as one of the teachers killed in the Uvalde Texas school shooting.

Eva Mireles was identified as one of the teachers killed in the Uvalde Texas school shooting.

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Irma Garcia

Irma Garcia, Mireles’ co-teacher of five years, also was killed in the shooting, her son, Christian Garcia told NBC News.

Garcia taught at the school for 23 years, according to her online school profile. She was married to her husband for 24 years and had four children.

She loved barbecuing with her husband and listening to music, the profile said.

A GoFundMe page to help Garcia’s family with funeral expenses called the teacher a “hero” who “sacrificed herself protecting the kids in her classroom.” Her family also described her as “sweet, kind, loving” and “fun with the greatest personality,” according to the page.

“She was loved by many and will truly be missed,” the GoFundMe page said.

Hal Harrell, superintendent of Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, said at a news conference Wednesday that the two teachers taught at the school for many years and have children in the school district. Harrell called them “two beautiful souls” who were a “cornerstone of that campus.”

“They poured their heart and soul into what they did in educating our kids,” he said.

Uziyah Garcia

Manny Renfro called grandson, Uziyah Garcia, whose age has not been confirmed, “the sweetest little boy that I’ve ever known.”

“I’m not just saying that because he was my grandkid,” he said.

Renfro remembered teaching him pass patterns while throwing a football during a visit over spring break.

“Such a fast little boy, and he could catch a ball so good,” Renfro said. “There were certain plays that I would call that he would remember, and he would do it exactly like we practiced.”

This March 2022 photo provided by Manny Renfro shows his grandson, Uziyah Garcia, while on spring break in San Angelo, Texas. The 8-year-old  was among those killed in Tuesday's shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24 in Uvalde, Texas.

This March 2022 photo provided by Manny Renfro shows his grandson, Uziyah Garcia, while on spring break in San Angelo, Texas. The 8-year-old was among those killed in Tuesday’s shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24 in Uvalde, Texas.

BLOODSHED SINCE SANDY HOOK: Uvalde school shooting among deadliest school attacks in past 10 years

Xavier Javier Lopez

Xavier Javier Lopez, 10, was remembered for his smile, his sense of humor and his love of sports and art.

As the last day of school drew near, his cousin, Lisa Garza, 54, of Arlington, Texas, said Xavier was eager to spend his summer swimming.

“He was just a loving 10-year-old little boy, just enjoying life, not knowing that this tragedy was going to happen today,” Garza said. “He was very bubbly, loved to dance with his brothers, his mom. This has just taken a toll on all of us.”

Xavier was a bright light for a family with whom he was always cracking jokes or dancing cumbia, his mother, Felicha Martinez, told The Washington Post.

“He was funny, never serious and his smile,” Martinez said. “That smile I will never forget. It would always cheer anyone up.”

Xavier also had a love for sports, including soccer and baseball, as well as an interest in art, relishing in any activity that gave him a chance to be creative, Martinez said.

She said her son couldn’t wait to go to middle school and was counting down the days.

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Eliahana Cruz Torres

Eliahana Cruz Torres was anxious but excited to play in the final softball game of her season on Monday. She always looked forward to the days she would wear her green and gray uniform and eyeblack grease. There was a chance she would make the Uvalde All-Star team.

Leandrah Rodriguez last spoke to her niece on Sunday. Eliahana “was saying like, ‘What if I make (the All-Stars). I’m going to be so nervous.’ And I was like: ‘Girl, you got this.You’re going to be good at it.’ So, she was excited,” she told KENS-TV in San Antonio.

On Monday, Rodriguez and her family spent hours waiting for information on Eliahana’s whereabouts. She knew something was wrong because the girl owned a cellphone and she would continue to call if she felt scared or threatened.

Adolfo Cruz, Eliahana’s grandfather, told ABC News he waited outside the elementary school for more than 10 hours, hoping to hear his grandchild was not among the dead. Late Tuesday night, he found out that she was, he said.

— Rick Cantu, Austin American-Statesman

Jose Flores

Jose Flores, 10, was among the students killed in the shooting, his father and uncle said.

Jose loved baseball and video games and “was always full of energy,” his father, Jose Flores Sr., told CNN.

His uncle, Christopher Salazar, told The Washington Post, the fourth grader had received an honor roll award hours before the shooting.

“He was very smart,” Salazar told the newspaper. “He wasn’t a kid who would look for trouble.”

“He was a very happy little boy. He loved both his parents … and loved to laugh and have fun.”

Jailah Silguero

Ten-year-old Jailah Silguero was the “baby” of her family and the youngest of four children, her father, Jacob Silguero, 35, told The New York Times. Officials confirmed his daughter’s death to Silguero using a DNA test.

Monday evening, the night before the shooting, Silguero told her father she didn’t want to go to school the next day. Seeming to have forgotten the next morning, she went to school like usual, her father said.

“I can’t believe this happened to my daughter,” he told The Times, crying.

“It’s always been a fear of mine to lose a kid.”

Layla Salazar

Ten-year-old Layla Salazar loved to swim and dance to TikTok videos, according to her father, Vincent Salazar. She was a fast runner who won six races at Robb Elementary’s field day, and Vincent Salazar had shared photos of her showing off her winning ribbons on social media.

Each morning as he drove her to school in his pickup, Salazar would play “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns N’ Roses and they’d sing along, he said.

“She was just a whole lot of fun.”

Jayce Luevanos

Jayce Luevanos, 10, was among the victims, his grandfather Carmelo Quiroz said.

Every morning, Luevanos, woke up and made his grandparents a pot of coffee, his grandfather said.

Luevanos often brought the neighborhood kids to the family home, a block from Robb Elementary School, and their dog Fifi would wait for him.

He was happy and loved, Quiroz said. “He was our baby.”

“His friends are hurting real bad right now,” Quiroz said. “They were so close. Close, close.”

‘THEY’RE SO YOUNG’: A grandfather mourns 10-year old Jayce Luevanos, among the victims

— Andrea Ball, USA TODAY

A woman cries as she leaves the Uvalde Civic Center, Tuesday May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas An 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at a Texas elementary school, killing multiple children and a teacher and wounding others, Gov. Greg Abbott said, and the gunman was dead.

A woman cries as she leaves the Uvalde Civic Center, Tuesday May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas An 18-year-old gunman opened fire Tuesday at a Texas elementary school, killing multiple children and a teacher and wounding others, Gov. Greg Abbott said, and the gunman was dead.

Contributing: Megan Menchaca, Austin American-Statesman; The Associated Press

Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Texas school shooting victims identified: Names killed in Uvalde