‘That smile I will never forget’: the victims of the Texas school shooting

More details have emerged about those who were killed on Tuesday when a gunman attacked Robb elementary school in Uvalde, Texas

As the United States lamented the nation’s latest mass school shooting, in which a gunman killed 19 children and two adults after storming into an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, more details emerged of those who died.

A law enforcement official said all victims were in the same fourth-grade classroom.

Uziyah Garcia, eight

Eight-year-old Uziyah Garcia was identified by his family as one of the children killed in the school shooting attack.

Uziyah Garcia, while on spring break in San Angelo, Texas
Uziyah Garcia. Photograph: Manny Renfro/AP

“The sweetest little boy that I’ve ever known,” Uziha’s grandfather, Manny Renfro, told the Associated Press. “I’m not just saying that because he was my grandkid.”

Renfro said Uziyah last visited him in San Angelo during spring break.

“We started throwing the football together, and I was teaching him pass patterns. Such a fast little boy, and he could catch a ball so good. There were certain plays that I would call that he would remember, and he would do it exactly like we practiced.”

Xavier Lopez, 10

Lisa Garza, 54, of Arlington, Texas, mourned the death of her cousin Xavier Lopez.

“He was just a loving 10-year-old little boy, just enjoying life, not knowing that this tragedy was going to happen today,” she said. “He was very bubbly, loved to dance with his brothers, his mom. This has just taken a toll on all of us.”

10-year-old Xavier Lopez
Xavier Lopez. Photograph: Handout

His mother, Felicha Martinez, told the Washington Post that she watched him receive his honor roll certificate hours before the shooting: “He was funny, never serious and his smile – that smile I will never forget. It would always cheer anyone up.” She said he loved soccer and baseball and that art was his favorite subject: “He loved any activity in which he could be creative and especially get to draw … He really couldn’t wait to go to middle school.”

Amerie Jo Garza, 10

Amerie Jo Garza was identified by family as one of the children killed.

Her stepfather, Angel Garza, told ABC News the girl had just turned 10 on 10 May.

Amerie Jo Garza with her stepfather, Angel Garza.
Amerie Jo Garza with her stepfather, Angel Garza. Photograph: Angel Garza/Facebook

“Thank you everyone for the prayers and help trying to find my baby,” Angel Garza wrote to ABC in a statement. “She’s been found. My little love is now flying high with the angels above. Please don’t take a second for granted. Hug your family. Tell them you love them. I love you Amerie Jo. Watch over your baby brother for me.

Garza was among several parents who criticised US gun laws.

“We should have more restrictions, especially if these kids [the gunmen] are not in their right state of mind and all they want to do is just hurt people, especially innocent children going to school,” he said.

Jose Flores, 10

Jose’s uncle, Christopher Salazar, said: “He was a very happy little boy. He loved both his parents … and loved to laugh and have fun.”

Jose Flores Jr., 10
Jose Flores. Photograph: Facebook

Eva Mireles, 44

Fourth-grade teacher Eva Mireles, was killed in the shooting. She had worked for the Uvalde school district for 17 years, said the teacher’s aunt, Lydia Martinez Delgado.

Ms. Eva Mireles - teacher at Robb elementary school
Eva Mireles. Photograph: Robb Elementary School

A neighbor of Mireles told the New York Post that Mireles “was just a sweetheart”.

“It’s a tragedy that this happened to a person like this,” said the neighbor, who did not want to be identified. “She was the sweetest person and she would take her cute dogs out on walks and she would say hi.”

She was reportedly married to Ruben Ruiz, a police officer, and has a daughter. Delgado said her niece took pride in her teaching, and that she had been told that she was killed protecting her pupils.

“She was the fun of the party,” she said in a statement reported by ABC. “I’m furious that these shootings continue. These children are innocent. Rifles should not be easily available to all.”

Irma Garcia, 46

Irma Garcia - teacher at Robb elementary school
Irma Garcia. Photograph: Robb Elementary School

Several US media outlets named Irma Garcia as the second adult victim. According to her school profile, Garcia, who was Mireles’s co-teacher, had taught at the school for 23 years and was married with four children. NBC reported that her son had been told by a friend in law enforcement that she too had been shielding her pupils.

Joe Garcia, her husband, died of a heart attack on Thursday, two days after the shooting. Joe Garcia had been stricken with grief by the death of his wife and collapsed at their home shortly after visiting a memorial event for his wife.

Rogelio Torres, 10

Rogelio Torres has been identified by his family as one of the victims.

Rogelio Torres
Rogelio Torres. Photograph: Twitter

“Thank you for the prayers and for trying to help find my cousin, it breaks my heart to say my [Rogelio] is now with the angels. I’ll forever miss you and love you my angel,” his cousin wrote on Twitter.

Makenna Lee Elrod, 10

Kadence Elizabeth identified her sister, Makenna, as one of the students killed.

Makenna Lee Elrod
Makenna Lee Elrod. Photograph: Facebook

“My sweet innocent baby sister … my heart will forever break for you my love … I love you with my whole heart kenna wenna. Have fun with your angels up in heaven baby girl,” she wrote.

Makenna’s aunt, Allison McCullough, told ABC News that Makenna played softball and did gymnastics. She loved animals, dancing and singing and she “made friends everywhere she went”. She would hide notes to her family in secret places, to be found later, and loved school, she said.

“Her smile would light up a room,” McCullough said, saying that she was “a light to all who knew her”. “She loved her family and friends so much.”

Tess Marie Mata, 10

Faith Mata mourned the loss of her sister Tess on Twitter, writing: “My precious angel you are loved so deeply. In my eyes you are not a victim but a survivor. I love you always and past forever baby sister, may your wings soar higher then you could ever dream. Till we meet again Tess Marie, love your big siss.”

Tess Marie Mata
Tess Marie Mata. Photograph: Twitter

Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10

Family members have identified Annabell as one of the victims. Her cousin, Jackie Cazares, was in the same classroom as her and was also shot and killed.

While Jackie was outgoing, Annabell was quieter. But the two cousins were close, relatives said. Polly Flores, Jackie’s aunt and Annabell’s great-aunt, recalled that Annabell’s twin sister – who is home-schooled – was jealous of the cousins’ relationship.

“We are a very tight family,” Flores told the New York Times. “It’s just devastating.”

Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez. Photograph: Twitter

Ellie Garcia, 10

Ellie Garcia’s parents confirmed her death on Facebook, with her father, Steven Garcia, saying, “Our Ellie was a doll and was the happiest ever.”

Ellie Garcia
Ellie Garcia. Photograph: Facebook

“It’s hard to issue out a statement on anything right now my mind is going at 1000 miles per hour… but I do wanna send our thoughts and prayers to those who also didn’t make it home tonight!!!” he wrote. “I was gonna DJ for her at her party like she wanted me too!!! Mom and Dad love you never forget that and please try and stay by our side Amor!!!! Send prayers to all UVALDE we really need it!!!!” her father added.

Her mother, Jennifer Lugo, also mourned the loss of her daughter, writing on Facebook: “My heart broken….I don’t know what to do. I feel so numb. I miss you baby!!!!”

On Sunday, Ellie’s uncle, Adrian Alonzo, wept as he told CNN that Ellie would have celebrated her 10th birthday in a few days and, shortly after that, “we will bury her.”

Nevaeh Bravo

Nevaeh Bravo’s cousin, Emily Grace Ayala, confirmed Bravo’s death on Facebook, writing: “Thank you everyone for the prayers, our Nevaeh has been found! She is flying with the angels above. We love you Nevaeh very much princess! Please everyone continue to keep her parents and our family in your prayers.”

Nevaeh Bravo
Nevaeh Bravo. Photograph: Facebook

Eliahana Cruz Torres, 10

Her grandfather confirmed Eliahana’s death to ABC, telling the outlet that “she was a beautiful young girl with a lot of energy”. Eliahana’s aunt, Siria Arizmendi, a fifth-grade teacher at Flores elementary school in the same district, told the AP: “She was very happy and very outgoing. She loved to dance and play sports. She was big into family, enjoyed being with the family.”

Eliahana Cruz Torres
Eliahana Cruz Torres. Photograph: Facebook

Jailah Nicole Silguero, 11

Jailah Nicole Silguero.
Jailah Nicole Silguero. Photograph: Family photo

Jailah Silguero’s mother confirmed her daughter’s death in a Facebook post, writing, “Why why why my baby … Fly high baby grandma n grandpa are with their arms wide open for baby … We’re going to miss you so much my wera Chula my lil side kick,” referring to her daughter as a “pretty blondie” in Spanish.

Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10

Jailah Silguero’s cousin, Jayce, was also killed in the classroom. In a separate Facebook post, Jailah’s mother posted a photo of her daughter and nephew with the caption: “Fly high my angels… We’re going to miss y’all so much.”

Jayce’s grandfather, Carmelo Quiroz, told USA Today that the young boy would make his grandparents a pot of coffee every morning. He wrote loving notes to his grandparents and was adored by their family dog, Fifi.

“He was our baby,” Quiroz said, noting that Jayce had many friends who would come over to play in their backyards. “His friends are hurting real bad right now. They were so close.”

Jayce Carmelo Luevanos
Jayce Carmelo Luevanos. Photograph: Facebook

Alithia Ramirez, 10

Alithia’s father confirmed his daughter’s death on Facebook by changing his profile photo to a picture of Alithia with angel wings.

Alithia Ramirez
Alithia Ramirez. Photograph: Facebook

In an earlier post, her father used the same photo of Alithia and wrote: “Trying to find my daughter Alithia. I called all the hospitals and nothing.”

Alithia’s friend, Nico Escalante, was killed after being struck by a car last year. To comfort Escalante’s parents, Alithia drew a picture of herself sketching a picture of Nico as he, in return, drew a picture of her from heaven.

Jacklyn Jaylen Cazares, 10

Jacklyn Jaylen Cazares.
Jacklyn Jaylen Cazares. Photograph: Family photo

Jacinto Cazares, Jacklyn’s father, confirmed his daughter’s death to ABC, saying that his “little girl” was “full of life”. Her cousin, Annabell Rodriguez, was also killed.

“She had the biggest heart. Jackie was the one that would go out of her way to help anyone. It gives me some comfort that she would be the little cracker that would have done something to help her classmates in that very scary scenario,” he said.

Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, 10

Alexandria Aniyah Rubio.
Alexandria Aniyah Rubio. Photograph: Family photo

Kimberly Mata-Rubio, Alexandria’s mother, mourned her daughter’s death on Facebook, writing: “My beautiful, smart, Alexandria Aniyah Rubio was recognized today for All-A honor roll. She also received the good citizen award. We told her we loved her and would pick her up after school. We had no idea this was goodbye.”

Mata-Rubio told the New York Times that she remembered how she and her husband were teased by hospital staff when Alexandria, who went by Lexi, was born 10 years ago, and the parents were procrastinating on naming their newborn. When coming up with a name, she imagined what a name would sound like at graduation, when her name would be called.

Lexi would go on to get all A’s in elementary school and held dreams of being a lawyer, her mother said. She had received a good citizenship award hours before the shooting. Lexi had looked forward to a future with more sports – volleyball, softball and basketball, along with learning more about feminism.

Felix Rubio, Lexi’s father, told the New York Times that lawmakers should ban AR-15 rifles.

Mata-Rubio said that the family was contacted by the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, and was asked if they would meet with him.

“My first thought was, ‘My Lexi doesn’t even like him,’” she said. They declined.

“Our baby wanted to be a lawyer. She wanted to make a difference,” Mata-Rubio said. “Please make sure she makes one now.”

Maite Rodriguez, 10

Maite Rodriguez.
Maite Rodriguez. Photograph: Family photo

Felix Coronado, the cousin of Maite Rodriguez’s mother, confirmed her death through a GoFundMe page, calling her a “sweet baby girl”.

“It is with a heavy heart I come on here on behalf of my cousin Ana who lost her sweet baby girl in yesterday’s senseless shooting we are deeply saddened by the loss of this sweet smart little girl. Donations for funeral expenses as well for time away from work to allow her to grieve her loss anything helps God bless and may she R.I.P Maite Rodriguez we love you,” he wrote.

Miranda Mathis, 11

Miranda Mathis.
Miranda Mathis. Photograph: Family photo

The day of the shooting, Miranda Mathis’s family ended up searching for the 11-year-old.

“My little cousin Miranda Mathis is missing please lord hear our prayer and please let these babies just be misplaced and harm free,” her cousin, Deanna Miller, wrote on Facebook, along with a photo of Mathis.

On Wednesday, Miller posted a tribute to her cousin: “My sweet baby cousin we loved u dearly I’m so sorry this happened to u baby please keep my family in your prayers.”

Layla Salazar, 10

Layla Salazar.
Layla Salazar. Photograph: Family photo

Layla Salazar was an active 10-year-old who loved to swim and dance to TikTok videos, her father, Vinnie, told the Associated Press.

On Facebook, Vinnie has posted tributes to Layla, recalling how they would jam to the song Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses.

“It’s the only thing that’s bringing me peace right now,” Vinnie wrote, posting a link of the song.

In another post, Vinnie shared a photo of Layla holding up two first place ribbons for a field day at Robb elementary school.

“We love you baby girl. Daddy is sorry I wasn’t there to protect you when you needed me the most. Love you so much. Fly high my little angel fly high,” he wrote.

Sam Levin contributed reporting


Chris Michael, Maya Yang, Lauren Aratani and agencies

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