'There are no words' after Texas school shooting: Families mourn as names of Uvalde victims emerge

·18 min read

Editor's note: A previous version of this story misspelled Eliahna Cruz Torres' name.

An animal lover. A TikTok aficionado. An aspiring marine biologist.

They threw footballs with their grandparents, worried about making the softball team, and danced with their siblings. They had dreams, favorite songs, whole lives ahead of them.

A community was shattered and nation plunged into mourning this week when 19 children and two teachers were gunned down Tuesday at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school.

Hundreds gathered in candlelit vigils in the days after. Wednesday night, people wiped away tears and held each other at a prayer vigil in Uvalde. On the steps of the Texas Capitol were 200 people, many holding hands and crying. Flowers and candles were laid in front of framed photos of each victim.

At Uvalde's central park, 21 crosses were erected Thursday morning bearing the names of the dead.

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.

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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."

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.

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.

Read more about Eva Mireles here.

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Irma Garcia

Irma Garcia, 48, 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.

Garcia's husband, Joe Garcia, 50, died suddenly Thursday after visiting his wife's memorial site, according to nephew John Martinez, who said their children — ages 23, 19, 15 and 13 — now have two funerals to plan for.

Irma Garcia loved barbecuing with her husband and listening to music, her profile said.

Irma Garcia, a 4th grade teacher at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, will shot and killed Tuesday. The 18-year-old suspect is accused of killing two teachers and 19 children.
Irma Garcia, a 4th grade teacher at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, will shot and killed Tuesday. The 18-year-old suspect is accused of killing two teachers and 19 children.

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 his grandson, Uziyah Garcia "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. He 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. He was among those killed in Tuesday's shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24 in Uvalde, Texas.

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Xavier Lopez

Xavier 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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Eliahna Cruz Torres

Eliahna Cruz Torres, 10, 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. Eliahna "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.

Monday, Rodriguez and her family spent hours waiting for information on Eliahna'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, Eliahna'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.

Jose Flores

Jose Flores, 10, was among the students killed in the shooting, his father Jose Flores Sr., confirmed to the Austin American-Statesman during a vigil held at the Uvalde County Fairplex Arena on Wednesday night.

Jose loved baseball and video games and "was always full of energy," Jose Flores Sr., told CNN.

Family members confirmed to the Austin-American Statesman that Jose Flores was one of the students killed inside Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas on May, 24, 2022.
Family members confirmed to the Austin-American Statesman that Jose Flores was one of the students killed inside Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas on May, 24, 2022.

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

Jailah Silguero, 10, 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.

Jailah was an "energetic, lovely little girl" who loved to make TikTok videos for friends and family, according to a verified GoFundMe page organized by a family friend.

Monday evening, the night before the shooting, Jailah 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

Layla Salazar, 11, 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.

In this image provided by Vincent Salazar, Layla Salazar poses with her first place ribbons from field day at her school, Robb Elementary School. Layla was one of the 19 children and their two teachers who were gunned down behind a barricaded door at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
In this image provided by Vincent Salazar, Layla Salazar poses with her first place ribbons from field day at her school, Robb Elementary School. Layla was one of the 19 children and their two teachers who were gunned down behind a barricaded door at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

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, Jayce woke up and made his grandparents a pot of coffee, his grandfather said.

Jayce 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."

Quiroz said Jayce's close-knit friends "are hurting real bad right now."

"I feel sad for my grandson, but I feel sad for all the people who lost their children like that," he said. "They're so young. Trying to better themselves. And then something like this."

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

— Andrea Ball, USA TODAY

Amerie Jo Garza

Amerie Jo Garza, 10, who died in the shooting, was an outgoing child, according to family member Rebecca Treviño.

Treviño said Amerie, who turned 10 two weeks ago, was the only child of her cousin, Alfred Garza III.

"She was outgoing and funny and wanted to help everyone else out," Treviño said. "She will be greatly missed by everyone.”

Amerie Jo Garza (right) was killed in the shooting in Uvalde Tuesday. She was 10 years old. Her father Alfred Garza III (left), posted this photo on Facebook Tuesday with the caption "our last weekend together."
Amerie Jo Garza (right) was killed in the shooting in Uvalde Tuesday. She was 10 years old. Her father Alfred Garza III (left), posted this photo on Facebook Tuesday with the caption "our last weekend together."

Alfred Garza III told the New York Times Amerie was “full of life, a jokester, always smiling.” She loved Play-Doh, liked hanging out with friends and was "very social," he told the newspaper. “She talked to everybody,” he added

Amerie's stepfather, Angel Garza, described her as a happy child who loved to paint and draw. She received an honor roll certificate the morning of the shooting and, for her 10th birthday, got a cell phone, Angel Garza said.

Amerie's 3-year-old brother wakes up every morning asking her his sister, Angel Garza told CNN. "We informed him that his sister is now with God and she will no longer be with us," he told the network through tears.

Garza said Amerie was trying to call 911 when the gunman shot her. The phone she used had been a gift for her 10th birthday.

Days after she died, Amerie was awarded the Bronze Cross by Girl Scouts of the United States of America. The Bronze Cross, one of the highest Girl Scouting honors, is awarded to Girl Scouts who save or attempt to save a life at the risk of their own.

"It was our honor as Amerie’s council to present the Bronze Cross to her family, and Girl Scouts will continue to pay tribute at her funeral services today with a Presentation of Colors," Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas tweeted Tuesday. "...We will carry her story with us always and ensure her brave actions will endure for generations."

Alithia Ramirez

Alithia was a 10-year-old student at the school. Her father, Ryan Ramirez, confirmed her death to the American-Statesman during a vigil held at the Uvalde County Fairplex Arena on Wednesday night.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke tweeted Wednesday that Alithia's parents had welcomed him into their home, where balloons from her 10th birthday and her artwork were still up on the walls.

"They want the world to know what a beautiful, talented, happy girl she was," he wrote.

Family members confirmed to the Austin American-Statesman that Alithia Ramirez was one of the students killed inside Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, May, 24, 2022.
Family members confirmed to the Austin American-Statesman that Alithia Ramirez was one of the students killed inside Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, May, 24, 2022.

Fernanda Sedeno, whose son was close friends with Alithia, told CBS News the two children "were both very kind, very caring, loved art."

After Sedeno's family moved to Grand Prairie, Texas, her son, Nico, died after being hit by a car. Sedeno said Alithia had a big heart and was there for the family after the tragedy.

"I never imagined that this little girl would be mature enough to say, 'Hey, you know what, I want to keep in touch. I want to check in. I want to make your painting and bring a smile to your face,'" Sedeno said. "That's what I loved about her, and that shows how pure and kind her heart was."

Ernesto Morales, who said he is a family member of Alithia, organized a verified GoFundMe page for her family.

"This little angel was taken from them," the page said. "...My hearts hurts and I’m just torn with all the evil in this world."

Tess Mata

Tess Mata, 10, known by many as Tessy, loved TikTok dance videos, Ariana Grande and the Houston Astros, her sister, Faith Mata, 21, told the Washington Post.

When Faith and her parents returned home from the family reunification center, the first thing they did was go to Tess's bedroom.

Faith looked around at the details of little sister's room: purple walls, a corkboard of photos, a poster of Houston Astros second baseman José Altuve, a soccer medal and trophy, and a container of dollar bills to save up for a family trip to Disney World.

She scrawled the words "I Love You Faith!!!!" on the bottom of the corkboard and crawled into bed with their parents. Her mom slept with Tess's blanket. Each of them got one of her pillows.

"It smelled like Tess," Faith said.

Faith organized a verified GoFundMe page for her sister.

Alexandria "Lexi" Rubio

Alexandria "Lexi" Rubio's mother, Kimberly Mata-Rubio, confirmed to NBC News her 10-year-old daughter was among the students killed in Tuesday's shooting.

Kimberly Mata-Rubio and Lexi's father, Felix Rubio, also spoke with CNN and said their daughter had made the honor roll and received a good citizen award before the shooting.

Lexi loved softball and basketball and had dreams of becoming a lawyer when she grew up, her family told CNN.

Felix Rubio, a deputy with the Uvalde County Sheriff's Office, responded to the scene of the shooting along with other law enforcement first responders.

"All I can hope is that she's just not a number," he told CNN. "This is enough. No one else needs to go through this. We never needed to go through this, but we are."

Makenna Lee Elrod

In an interview with ABC News, Makenna's aunt, Allison McCullough, said Makenna loved playing with her siblings and cousins, practicing softball and gymnastics, and singing and dancing. The 10-year-old also loved animals and enjoyed going to the ranch with her dad.

"She had the biggest heart and loved her family and friends so much," McCullough told ABC. "Her smile would light up a room."

Makenna was  a "natural leader" who loved school, McCullough added. She also hid handwritten notes to family members for them to find later.

"Makenna made friends everywhere she went," McCullough said, adding that she and Makenna's mom are twins and both are teachers in the school district. "...Her smile would light up a room."

On a verified GoFundMe page, she was described by her aunt  as "beautiful, funny, smart, and amazing."

Makenna's uncle, Kyle McCullough, confirmed her death to NBC News.

Nevaeh Bravo

Nevaeh Bravo, 10, a fourth grader at Robb Elementary, was among the shooting victims, her grandmother Esmeralda Bravo confirmed to the American-Statesman during a vigil held at the Uvalde County Fairplex Arena on Wednesday night.

Nevaeh's cousin, Austin Ayala, told the Washington Post celebrated her 10th birthday in January and she always "put a smile on everyone's faces."

Esmeralda Bravo, 63, sheds tears while holding a photo of her granddaughter, Nevaeh, one of the Robb Elementary School shooting victims, during a prayer vigil in Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Esmeralda Bravo, 63, sheds tears while holding a photo of her granddaughter, Nevaeh, one of the Robb Elementary School shooting victims, during a prayer vigil in Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

“It just feels like a nightmare that we cannot wake up from,” Ayala said. “Her siblings have to wake up every day knowing that she’s not there with them.”

Eliahna 'Ellie' Garcia

Steven Garcia said waiting at Robb Elementary School on Tuesday was the "longest day ever" after his 10-year-old daughter, Ellie, called him to get to the school.

"The police barricaded and pushed us back out, so we just stood on the sidelines and watched this whole thing play out,” Garcia told NBC's "Today" show.

This undated handout photo provided by Siria Arizmendi shows her niece, Eliahna Garcia, who is among those killed in Tuesday, May 24, 2022, shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
This undated handout photo provided by Siria Arizmendi shows her niece, Eliahna Garcia, who is among those killed in Tuesday, May 24, 2022, shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Garcia remembered his daughter as "the sweetest girl you’ve ever had the chance to meet" who loved basketball, TikTok and the colors pink and purple, he told "Today." "I had the honor of being her father," he said.

"She loved to dance. She loved to have fun. She loved ramen noodles and she just loved life, in general," he added in an interview with the TV show.

Ellie's grandfather, Rogelio Lugo, told the Los Angeles Times he last saw Ellie on Sunday. She spent weekends with her grandparents reminding them to take their pills, helping mow the lawn, making tostadas and chalupas and babysitting her younger sisters, the newspaper reported.

Grandmother Nelda Lugo told the newspaper she had already been buying gifts for Ellie's birthday in early June. As she sat surrounded by loved ones on Wednesday, she couldn't believe the deaths at the school. "This morning I got up and thought, 'What a dream I had,'" she told the Los Angeles Times.

"Eliahna was such a sweet girl with a lovely and beautiful soul," according to a verified GoFundMe fundraiser organized for Ellie's family. "She would light up everyone's world with big smiles & big hugs."

Rojelio Torres

Evadulia Fernandez’s front lawn in Uvalde is green — except for one bald patch of dirt by the live oak tree. That’s where her grandson Rojelio Torres would play football with his cousins every day after the school bus dropped him off.

Rojelio, 10, was one of 11 cousins and siblings as young as 6 and as old as 17 who lived in the family’s two-story house on a two-and-a-half acre property on the edge of Uvalde. He spent his days roaming the big yard, climbing the trees or playing on catch on the swing set.

But he was just as happy to do chores, Fernandez told USA TODAY.

“He was always the first to help,” Fernandez said. “We would tell them ‘we’re going to clean the yard’ and he was the first to pick up a bag and run outside to go pick up trash.”

Rojelio’s 9-year-old brother, Federico, was also in class when the gunfire erupted.

Fernandez and her 30-year-old daughter, the boys’ mother, spent hours Tuesday waiting for news of the victims alongside other families at the Uvalde Civic Center. A bus dropped off Federico and another cousin at the center, but there was no sign of Rojelio. It wasn’t until near midnight that officials took them into the room to tell them that Rojelio had been killed.

“There’s no explanation,” Fernandez said. “No se puede explicar.”

When her other grandchildren ask “Is Rojelio coming home?” Fernandez can only tell them, “No, esta con diosito. He’s in heaven.”

Maite Rodríguez

Maite Rodríguez, 10, was a hard worker, her mother, Ana Rodríguez, said.

Maite had straight A's but struggled when classes transitioned to Zoom during the pandemic. This year, she once again made the honor roll and was recognized at an assembly Tuesday, the day the gunman opened fire.

Thursday, Maite's honor roll certificate, photos of her, and a bouquet of red roses sat on her mother's dining room table.

Rodríguez said her daughter especially loved physical education. Her teacher told Rodríguez that Maite was a competitive kickball player and a faster runner than all the boys. She was "focused, competitive, smart, bright, beautiful, happy," and she dreamed of being a marine biologist, so much so that she had already researched a program at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi, Rodríguez said.

"She was just so driven," Rodríguez said. "She was definitely special. She was going to be something, she was going to be something very, very special."

Jacklyn 'Jackie' Cazares

Jacklyn Cazares, 9, who her father, Javier Cazares, identified as Jackie in an interview with the Austin American-Statesman, was among the 19 students killed.

Cazares said he rushed to the school after hearing about the shooting.

He told The Associated Press that Jacklyn was a tough-minded “firecracker” always looking to help people in need. She would have turned 10 on June 10.

“She had a voice,” her father said. “She didn’t like bullies. She didn’t like kids being picked on. All in all, full of love. She had a big heart.”

Maranda Mathis

The mother of a close friend described Maranda as “very loving and very talkative.” She told the Austin American-Statesman that her daughter and Maranda had been in the same classes and that Maranda would ask to have her hair done like her daughter’s.

Annabell Rodriguez

Javier Cazares, whose daughter Jacklyn was among the victims, said that Annabell Rodriguez, Jacklyn's second cousin, was also killed.

Polly Flores told the New York Times that her 10-year-old great-niece, Annabell, was an honor roll student. She was also outgoing and loved to be the center of attention.

"She was my little diva," Flores said.

Contributing: Claire Osborn, Heather Osbourne, Sarah Asch and Megan Menchaca, Austin American-Statesman; Rafael Carranza, Arizona Republic; The Associated Press

Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at cfernando@usatoday.com or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Texas shooting victims identified: List of school victims in Uvalde