Hundreds pay respects in Uvalde at school, funeral homes as first victim visitations are held

Funeral for Amerie Jo Garza, 10, will be held Tuesday – the first of 21 – exactly one week after massacre

Sheila Flynn
in Uvalde, Texas
Tuesday 31 May 2022 15:17 BST
Related vide: Bidens visit Uvalde memorial

As an Eagle Scout on Monday raised his trumpet to play Taps outside of Robb Elementary School, hundreds of people around him fell silent to honour not just soldiers who died in service to America but also the 19 children and two teachers who were killed in the building behind them.

Just seconds away on the same street in Uvalde, mourners held one of the first visitations for those students, for10-year-old Amerie Jo Garza, at Hillcrest Funeral Home in advance of a rosary later that evening and funeral Mass on Tuesday – exactly one week after she was gunned down in her fourth-grade classroom. The visitation for her schoolmate Maite Rodriguez was at the town’s other funeral home, with services scheduled for Tuesday evening.

Throngs of people carrying stuffed animals, flowers and messages swarmed Geraldine Street, where a heavy police presence remained.

They had come from far and wide to pay their respects, many with their young children in tow.

Lisa Camarillo, 38, drove two hours from Laredo with her sons, Oscar and Jacob, who is the same age as most of the young victims who died in their class when Salvador Ramos, 18, attacked the school.

Ramos was eventually shot dead after police waited nearly an hour to enter the room where all of the victims were fatally shot and others were injured.

“I’m lost for words,” Ms Camarillo tells The Independent, explaining that she came with her boys to Uvalde to “pay my respects for these families, because this is something that should never have happened – especially not here at school.”

The visitation was held Monday in Uvalde for Amerie Jo Garza, who died last week in the Uvalde school massacre, and her funeral will take place on Tuesday (Facebook)

She laments the fact that, unlike during her own school days, she has to worry about active shooters – and teach her son at just ten years old to be vigilant.

“I just teach him: Be ready. If this ever happens at school, do you know what to do? Do you know where to hide? Do you know procedures? You’ve practiced for this.”

Lisa Camarillo, 38, drove from Laredo, Texas with her two sons to pay her respects to the families of the victims (Sheila Flynn)

Three mothers who’d driven from San Antonio, clutching bouquets in the grueling Texas heat, echo her sentiments.

“It’s just a tragedy,” says Jessica Rainey, 36. “It has to stop.”

She has a 16-year-old son and admits: “I’m terrified.”

“With everything going on, you want to make sure that their mental health is stable, but you also have to worry about everyone else’s mental health,” she says. “And it’s sad that you have to say a prayer, and you have to constantly keep looking at your phone, because you don’t ever know if something’s going to happen.”

Jessica Rainey, 36, drove from San Antonio with her two friends, Leslie Kirkland, left, and Danielle Holmes, centre; all three are mothers worried about the safety of their school-age children (Sheila Flynn)

Her friend, Danielle Holmes, also has a teenage boy.

“It’s close to home,” she tells The Independent. “It’s real close to us. When we heard about it, we’re an hour away. That could have been us.”

She says she’d prefer to keep her son home to do online schooling, but he’s not interested.

“Me and my husband were talking about it, and we’re looking at getting him a bulletproof backpack and making him wear one of the bulletproof T-shirts just to be safe, because he doesn’t want to be away from his friends,” she says.

All three agree that something has to change; their hearts are breaking for Uvalde, the victims and everyone affected.

The country, Ms Holmes says, “needs to be proactive – not reactive.”

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