Robb Elementary shooting survivors experiencing feelings of guilt

“Survivor’s guilt is a response to an event which someone else has experienced loss, but you did not.”

UVALDE – From shooting hoops to throwing spirals, 10-year-old Daniel Ruiz is in many ways your average kid.

”The Falcons won and we got to...we were able to be on the field and then they took us up to a suite in the game,” Daniel said.

He was able to go to a game recently and was the honorary team captain. But, there’s a pain he feels that’s out of sight until he puts pen to paper.

“I was thinking about her,” he said holding up a piece of artwork he made with his younger sibling.

Thinking of his cousin Ellie Garcia, who died at Robb Elementary School in a classroom not far from his own.

“It says, ‘I’m sorry I let you down. I’m sorry I let you die,’” Briana Ruiz said, reading her son’s drawing.

Daniel hasn’t gone back to Uvalde CISD. He now attends Sabinal ISD.

Briana said Daniel always looked out for Ellie.

“He feels a lot of guilt because he feels he didn’t protect her,” Briana said. “We’ve all tried to reassure him, you know that there was absolutely [nothing] that he could have done.”

Unfortunately, Daniel’s survivor’s guilt is not unique.

At the Uvalde Together Resiliency Center, counselors are seeing more and more people feeling the say way. It’s all too common after a mass shooting.

“Survivors guilt is truly when a person has feelings of guilt because they have survived a life-threatening situation that others did not, so it’s a form of PTSD or trauma,” Mary Beth Fisk, executive director of the Ecumenical Center, said.

Fisk explains to combat these feelings, survivors should seek help but helping others can be just as beneficial.

“That goes a long way in making us feel that we’re fulfilled after perhaps we felt we should have also experienced the death of the tragedy,” Fisk said.

Daniel has been doing that for his fellow survivors, creating a network of support.

He said he’d like to see more of it coming from the outside as well.

“Try to help them, give them support, talk to them,” Daniel said.

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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.