‘Even if they can’t, I will still try to live to my fullest’: Robb Elementary survivor shares her story

Auraleigha Santos doesn’t want to see Robb Elementary demolished

A fourth-grader at Robb Elementary shared her story of survival on the day that changed her life and so many others forever after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers last month.

UVALDE, Texas – A fourth-grader at Robb Elementary shared her story of survival on the day that changed her life and so many others forever after a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers last month.

“Is it hard to remember everything that happened that day?” KSAT reporter Leigh Waldman asked fourth-grader Auraleigha Santos, 10.

“Yeah, because I don’t want to, like, remember what happened, so I’ll try to forget it,” Auraleigha Santos said.

Her voice spoken barely above a whisper, but her strength is roaring like a lion.

“Everyone was crying, so I was trying to calm down my friends,” Auraleigha said.

Auraleigha was on the playground for an early recess on May 24. She said it had been a fun day in Ms. Martinez’s class until the day took a sharp turn.

“We started running inside. Everyone was screaming and crying, and apparently, the shooter, where he crashed, he shot at us first,” Auraleigha said.

She and her classmates got inside a classroom, and the lockdown sirens were blaring. An unmistakable sound cut through the walls.

“We heard like two bangs,” the fourth-grader said.

Auraleigha said her class knew what to do at that moment. Their lockdown drills taught them to stay quiet and out of sight.

An officer’s hand appeared on the window, and he told them it was time to evacuate. They later took a short bus ride to the civic center.

“There was a bunch of third and second-grade classes at the civic center, and there was only two fourth-grade classes,” Auraleigha said.

That night she learned with the rest of the world that 19 of her classmates and two teachers were dead, including her best friend, Amerie Jo Garza.

“I went to Amerie’s viewing, and her casket was closed, so I know something bad must have happened,” Auraleigha said.

She has been getting care at the resiliency center. They’re helping her process what she went through and what she’s feeling now, including her anger.

“Kids were calling out to them, and the cops didn’t do anything. They were right there. They didn’t stop him. They let him,” Auraleigha said.

She’s not afraid to go to school next year because she doesn’t think this will happen again.

“Even if they can’t, I will still try to live to my fullest,” Auraleigha said.

Auraleigha wrote about her friends that were killed, wanting them to be remembered for how they were and not how they died:

“Naveah Bravo was a really pretty girl and she was also really fast, a really fast runner. And then Jacklyn Cazares was always a really happy person and liked hanging out with all of her friends. And then McKenna Elrod, she liked the colors pink and blue, and she liked playing with the fidgets. And Ellie Garcia, she liked doing TikTok dances, and she was just a really fun person. She was actually in my second-grade class, and there was this winter dance and her dad was the DJ. And we were just laughing the whole time and dancing. And then Uziyah Garcia, he was really fast and literally half the school liked him, even if they were third graders. And then Eliahana Torres, she was a really beautiful girl and she was really outgoing, and she just liked hanging around with all her friends, as well. And Jacklyn and Eliahana, they were friends. And, Amerie, she was my best friend. She was a beautiful and amazing person. She was really smart and really funny.”

WATCH: Fourth-grader Auraeleigha Santos reads names of victims in Robb Elementary School shooting

Auraleigha doesn’t want Robb Elementary to be torn down. She says she has happy memories there, but she also says she will understand if that does happen.

Officials have said students and staff will not be returning to the campus.

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About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.