Shortly after Tuesday’s deadly shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas that left 19 students and two adults dead, Laura Mejia shared a photo to Facebook of her young cousin — posing while wearing a yellow soccer jersey at a local Burger King — asking for help locating the boy. “Please help us,” she wrote. Less than an hour later, she’d update her post, revealing that the gradeschooler had died. “He has been found, fly high handsome angel,” she wrote. “Til we meet again.”
Mejia’s post was just one of many shared by parents and family members of Robb Elementary School students across social media in the aftermath of the shooting, each detailing the same heartbreaking story: A child is missing, and no one — neither police nor school officials nor medical personnel — has provided any useful leads. As night fell on Uvalde, some parents were still unable to locate their children. Speaking to ABC 13 Houston, Father Brandon Elrod stated he’d been searching for his 10-year-old daughter for hours. “She may not be alive,” he said, holding back tears. In a message to Rolling Stone, Rob Trevino shared that his niece remained among the missing. “Not much to say right now,” he wrote.
While some families continued to wait into the evening, others received the news they had been dreading. “My nephew was a victim of a school shooting today,” Mitch Renfro wrote on Facebook after updating his friends on the status of the young boy whose photo he’d posted to his timeline just hours earlier. “An 8 year old was killed by a crazy man.”
Facebook became a virtual gathering place for Robb Elementary parents to share updates on the status of their children. “I don’t ask for much or hardly even post on here but please It’s been 7 hours and I still haven’t heard anything on my love,” Angel Garza wrote on Facebook, asking his friends to “help me find my daughter.” “Help me find my baby,” Jennifer Lugo said as news broke about the shooting. “If anyone hears or sees anything please let me know,” she later added, posting a photo of her daughter taken Tuesday. “Everyone is telling to check places I can’t leave !!!!! Please HELPPPPP !!!”
For many parents, the hours spent searching remained fruitless. “They sent us to a hospital, to the Civic Center, to the hospital, then here again,” Father Federico Torres told KHOU 11 reporter Anayeli Ruiz. “Nothing, in San Antonio — they won’t tell us anything, just a photo and waiting. We’re just waiting for everything to be okay.” Authorities reportedly told family members a DNA sample is needed to assist in the identification of victims, and a stream of worried parents were seen filing into the local civic center to get swabbed.
By early evening, the adult victim killed at Robb Elementary was identified as fourth-grade teacher Eva Mireles, 44. “It’s all just hitting me. It’s crazy,” Johnny Delgado, Mireles’ cousin, told Rolling Stone. “She was the most outgoing and generous person, always happy. She’d do anything for all the kids she taught and all my little cousins and nieces and nephews.”
The public pleas for help to locate loved ones, like Mejia’s, were shared widely by folks in the Uvalde and San Antonio area. “This is just evil,” Rey Chapa, an uncle to one of the schoolchildren, told the New York Times. “I’m afraid I’m going to know a lot of these kids that were killed.”
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