In the small town of Uvalde, Texas, which sits 80 miles from San Antonio, Texas, and just 62 miles from Piedras Negras, Mexico, 18-year-old Salvador Rolando Ramos, armed and wearing a gun and bullet carrier, murdered 19 children and 2 adults after reportedly shooting his grandmother.
In this predominately Latino and tight-knit community, witnesses report seeing Ramos crash his truck into a ditch after the argument he had with his grandmother, where he then shot at responding officers. Despite the presence of armed law enforcement, Ramos was able to run into nearby Robb Elementary, where he opened fire on anyone he encountered until law enforcement was finally able to shoot and kill him.
By the time the “good guys with the guns” were able to stop him, a common refrain heard by gun-zealots who oppose gun reform measures, Ramos’ rampage concluded the 212th mass shooting in 2022 alone as reported by the database maintained by The Gun Violence Archive, an independent data collection organization.
This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Connecticut, where a gunman used the same type of weapon - an AR15 style assault rifle - to murder 20 children and 6 adults. Ramos purchased at least one of the guns on his 18th birthday, the first day he legally could in the state of Texas. He was also allowed to purchase 375 rounds of ammo.
All mass shootings are horrific and in this small predominantly Latino town, the community connections are even deeper because of the close family dynamic that exists in Latino culture, which makes a preventable tragedy like this even more unimaginable to process.
The victims, aged 7-10, were only a few days out from summer break and many of the parents who only hours later would be met with the unimaginable, were at the school earlier in the day proudly watching their kids show off their honor roll certificates at an awards ceremony.
10-year-old Amerie Jo Garza holds up a school certificate naming her to the honor roll at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas at 10 a.m. Tuesday. Hours later she would be killed at school. pic.twitter.com/qMO3JSKIFu
— Michael Pegram (@MichaelPNews) May 25, 2022
In a culture that places a high value and priority on immediate and extended family, the loss doesn’t just encompass their own but also encompasses friends, cousins, aunts, and uncles. Eva Mireles, 44, was the first teacher to be confirmed killed, with her nephew being one of the first reports of her death.
My tia did not make it, she sacrificed herself protecting the kids in her classroom, i beg of you to keep my family including all of her family in y’all’s prayers , IRMA GARCIA IS HER NAME and she died a HERO. she was loved by many and will truly be missed. pic.twitter.com/2XpdJA0q8x
— john martinez ❤️🔥 (@fuhknjo) May 25, 2022
In the days to come the tragedy will continue to be thrown around as the political football mass shootings have become, but in the aftermath, families will remain shattered, and most of America will continue to try to cope. Access to mental health and trauma counseling, which the Latino community disproportionally doesn’t have access to, will be just another piece of the forgotten puzzle as the country grapples with sustained pervasive gun violence.
An open letter to my Latina sisters:
There's nothing to say today that could even begin to meet the devastation of this moment.#Uvalde #Thread
— Nathalie Molina Niño (she, her) (@NathalieMolina) May 25, 2022
VictimsFirst (a network of families of the deceased and survivors from over two decades of previous mass shootings), started a fund to ensure 100% of financial support goes directly to the affected families so that victims’ families and those wounded/injured are protected from fraud and exploitation. The fund has already surpassed its initial goal of $100,000.00.