"The scene was pretty horrific": Volunteer describes parents' wait for news

·2 min read

The city of Uvalde is a community of about 15,000 but some residents say it feels more like a neighborhood. It now joins the list of American communities devastated by gun violence after an 18-year-old man stormed into Robb Elementary School and started shooting students and teachers. At least 19 children and two adults were killed.

While parents were waiting to hear about their children, some were asked for DNA samples to help with identification.

"The scene was pretty horrific. And I understand that some of the bodies were hard to recognize," PJ Talavera told CBS News. Talavera is volunteering at Uvalde's Civic Center, where parents went to be reunited with their children.

Several of the children who died have been publicly identified, including 9-year-old Amerie Jo Garza and 10-year-old Annabelle Guadalupe Rodriguez.

Rodriguez's father's desperation was clear as he arrived at the school grounds looking for his daughter.

"After the shooting, they don't know where she's at. I gotta find her," he said, prior to learning the awful news that his daughter was among the dead.   Eva Mireles, who taught fourth grade at Robb Elementary School and trained in bilingual and special education, was also killed.

On the school's website, she wrote that she had "a supportive, fun and loving family." Her husband is an officer with the Uvalde police force.

Officials said the gunman exchanged fire with police and then turned his weapons on children and teachers, shooting indiscriminately. As parents spoke with authorities the horror of what happened to their children became clear.

"I know there were some families that were upset. Raising their voices to some of the law enforcement officials. They would be given information as far as confirmation of death. And the families would break down," Talavera said.

Robb Elementary has nearly 600 students in the second, third and fourth grades. The vast majority of them are Latino. The last day of school was set for tomorrow, but now all classes and activities are canceled until further notice. The district says grief counselors will be available starting today.

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