UVALDE, Texas – It’s been more than nine months since the shooting at Robb Elementary. The families of the 21 victims are trying to get through each day, and now some are feeling a renewed sense of pain and anger because of Nathan Kouamou, who they say swindled them and capitalized on their tragedy.
“In the beginning, I thought (Kouamou) had good intentions. I really did,” said Berlinda Arreola, step-grandmother of Amerie Jo Garza, a child victim in the shooting. “But as things started to come out about him afterward and everything that has surfaced since then, I truly do believe now that he set out to manipulate us all.”
Looking at Kouamou’s behavior and failed promises after thousands of dollars were raised for an event that never happened, it’s hard for Arreola to see anything but ill intentions.
“You’re just as evil as the man that started this whole mess to begin with, just in a whole different, different way,” Arreola said, referring to Kouamou.
Jesse Rizo, uncle of Robb victim Jackie Cazares, feels the same way.
“(Kouamou) doesn’t think of the long-term effect of something like this. So, yeah, there’s a lot of anger,” Rizo said.
They both remember hearing Kouamou’s plans to honor their loved ones and other victims with a recreation center.
“It would have meant one that our family members, our children, our teachers -- their deaths wouldn’t go in vain, that something good came out of it,” Arreola said.
Kouamou cut off all contact with the families after allegedly selling thousands of dollars worth of tickets to a festival and soccer tournament that never happened.
“That money didn’t belong to him. He literally again used these 21 souls that were horrifically murdered to turn around and steal,” Arreola said.
Kouamou didn’t stop there. He claimed he would revitalize the city of Uvalde’s soccer program.
Mayor Don McLaughlin said hundreds of kids enrolled for this soccer season and the next.
“My understanding was he was supposed to send a check for $8,000 to the city, you know, for that program because the city runs the soccer program,” McLaughlin said.
The check never came.
While the city isn’t out that money, it would have helped the kids with jerseys and other costs.
“As far as I’m concerned, that chapter’s closed. Nathan in the city of Uvalde -- that chapter’s closed. It’s not going to be reopened,” McLaughlin said.
Rizo and Arreola want to close that chapter once they share their truth about Kouamou.
“We’re pushing this out over the social media wherever we have to ‘til it gets the word out everywhere that needs to get out so that this does not happen to another family again,” Arreola said.
Kouamou still has not responded to calls, texts, emails, and messages sent over social media.
To be clear, he has not been charged with any crime and is currently not under any investigation.
Plans to build a recreation center are still in the works.
McLaughlin said there are 25 acres set aside by the Uvalde Memorial Hospital to build on.
Some sponsors have come forward wanting to help fund it. McLaughlin says that will be handled through the Uvalde Forever Foundation out of Kerrville.
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