Photos of smiling Robb Elementary victims & survivors flood social media after release of controversial article

Many of the victims’ families are asking for their loved ones to be remembered as they were in life, not how they were killed

UVALDE, Texas – If you’ve scrolled social media today, you may have noticed a lot of photos of the students and teachers killed inside Robb Elementary School in May 2022.

You may have also seen an article released by the Washington Post on Thursday that includes crime scene photos and first-hand accounts of survivors and first responders from 11 mass shootings where an AR-15 was used.

Some of the most graphic images come from classrooms 111 and 112 at Robb Elementary.

There are also photos from the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, where 26 people were killed in 2017.

KSAT will not share or describe the images out of respect for the families. Honoring their wishes, we are sharing the social media posts from the victims’ and survivors’ families.

Remembering the 21

Steven Garcia shared a photo of his daughter Ellie, writing in part, “Don’t relive it... Just keep walking forward with us... Thank you.”

Lives Robbed, the nonprofit started by some of the families, shared a video of the 21 victims′ photos, writing, “This is how we choose to remember our loved ones.”

Amerie Jo’s mom, Kim Garcia, shared a picture of her daughter smiling and the caption: “My beautiful, sassy, caring, artistic, protective, blunt but sweet sweet girl, you are so loved and I want you to always be remembered as that.”

While her stepdad, Angel Garza, simply wrote, “The images I have seen today will never leave my mind!”

Amerie’s grandmother, Dora, also made a post calling her granddaughter a hero.

Layla Salazar’s mom and dad shared videos of her, writing how much they miss her and #EndGunViolence

Gloria Cazares put together a video of her daughter, Jackie, and wrote, “This is the way I CHOOSE for the world to remember you”

Jailah Silguero’s mom also edited a video with the caption, “I’m so sorry sweet girl”

Maggie Mireles shared a video Eva sent to them in her days preparing for virtual learning with the message, “EVA MIRELES A HERO! SHE LOVED HER STUDENTS AND LOVED HER FAMILY.”

Irma Garcia’s photo was shared by her sister, Marissa, who wrote that she wants Irma to be remembered for her kindness and love.

Marissa also wrote, “I do have conflicting feelings about the article. Although I’m all for transparency, I’m very apprehensive about the nature of it so close to the holidays.”

Maite Rodriguez’s mom, Ana Coronado, shared a photo with a green heart the day before her daughter’s heavenly birthday and wrote, “When life was perfect.”

Sandra Cruz shared several photos of her daughter, Eliahna Torres, and wrote “She was always the light of any party. Would brighten and make your day that much better.”

Sandra Cruz writes tribute to her daughter Eliahna. (Sandra Cruz)

The mother of AJ Martinez, one of the survivors from room 112 who was hurt in the shooting, asked for their kids to be remembered too, “because they hurt every day especially being there in those moments.”

Survivors from Robb Elementary honored by their loved ones (Kassandra Chavez)

Advocating for release of photos

Not everyone feels the same way, though. Brett Cross, Uziyah Garcia’s guardian, wrote a post encouraging people to take in the photos for what they are.

In an interview, Cross doubled down on this and hopes that having people see the aftermath of the photos will make an impact.

“See the real, the true reality of what these mass shootings are. Because, yes, you see it on the news and (say), ‘Oh, it doesn’t happen here.’ It does. And it’s easier to fight before your child is murdered than to fight afterwards,” Cross said.

He said he’ll still share other pictures of Uziyah smiling like the other families are, but he wants people to know that’s not what Uziyah’s last moments were.

“It plays over in my mind all the time. He wasn’t smiling. He didn’t look like he did in these pictures. He was terrified,” Cross said.

The Washington Post let the families of the victims and survivors know the photos were coming out before they were released, as they did with the other 10 mass shootings included in the story. It also wrote an additional article sharing the discussion behind the release of the photos.

About the Authors

Leigh Waldman is an investigative 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.

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