Uvalde community comes together at prayer vigil held for shooting victims

There was an outpouring of support from out-of-towners and community members

UVALDE, Texas – Pain, heartbreak, loss, love, support and compassion -- it can all be found at the Uvalde Memorial Park Friday night.

A prayer vigil was held there in the heart of downtown following a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that killed 19 children and two schoolteachers.

There was an outpouring of support from out-of-towners and community members. The vigil started at 6 p.m. but large crowds continued to pay their respects well into the 10 o’clock hour.

It was apparent that every local resident had some connection to a victim, if not multiple.

A Robb Elementary teacher made her way around the memorial, stopping at each cross. A friend helped her walk around as she could barely stand on her own.

She broke down at each cross while reading the victims’ names, remembering her students and co-workers.

“It’s what the people don’t understand. I’ve told many parents that their kids are my kids,” the teacher said to a group of journalists as she made her way to her car.

The teachers’ emotions were also seen in the little ones.

Some young children just stood and stared at the crosses, trying to understand the unthinkable. Others cried and clung to their parents.

We met a few students who were inside the school the day of the shooting, but neither they nor their parents wanted to talk. Many kids brought flowers, toys, and angles to place at the crosses.

“I knew Amerie Jo Garza. Her dad was my coach for baseball this year. She was a nice girl, really nice,” said EJ Zamora, who graduated from Robb Elementary the previous year.

He also had a message for his coach, “I hope and pray for you that you’re okay.”

Every local resident we spoke to has some tie or connection to a victim. Martha Garcia’s adult son’s 3rd-grade teacher was Irma Garcia. Garcia died trying to protect her students Tuesday.

“She made a really good, long-lasting impression on him. He was really heartbroken to hear about her loss,” said Martha.

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About the Authors:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.

Adam Barraza is a photojournalist at KSAT 12 and an El Paso native. He interned at KVIA, the local ABC affiliate, while still in high school. He then moved to San Antonio and, after earning a degree from San Antonio College and the University of the Incarnate Word, started working in news. He’s also a diehard Dodgers fan and an avid sneakerhead.