At the First Funeral for an Uvalde Victim, an Overflow Crowd

Town's funeral homes don't have space for all the victims of last week's shooting
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 31, 2022 6:09 PM CDT
Funerals Begin for Uvalde Victims
Flowers are piled around crosses with the names of the victims killed in last week's school shooting as people visit a memorial at Robb Elementary School to pay their respects, Tuesday, May 31, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(Newser) – A week after a gunman ran into a Texas grade school and started shooting, the first of 21 funerals began on Tuesday. Meanwhile, at least one family still hasn't seen the body of their loved one. Hundreds of mourners turned out for an afternoon Mass to remember Amerie Jo Garza. Six pallbearers wearing white shirts and gloves carried her small casket into Sacred Heart Catholic Church, which turned away several mourners after reaching capacity, the AP reports. Maite Rodriguez’s funeral was scheduled for later Tuesday at one of the funeral homes in Uvalde, Texas.

The two 10-year-old fourth-graders were among 19 children and two teachers killed when an 18-year-old gunman burst into a classroom on May 24 and began firing a military-style rifle. Visitation for one of the teachers, 48-year-old Irma Garcia, also was Tuesday, along with visitations for children Nevaeh Bravo and Jose Flores Jr. Amerie loved purple, and Erika Santiago, her husband, and their two children wore purple shirts adorned with images of the victims to Amerie's funeral. Santiago described Amerie as "a nice little girl who smiled a lot," and who was "so humble and charismatic but full of life." Santiago said her 10-year-old son, Adriel, watched in horror when the first images came out on the news after the shooting and he recognized his friends Amerie and Maite

Funerals will continue over the next two-and-a-half weeks. Vincent Salazar’s 11-year-old daughter, Layla, has the last of the scheduled services—her visitation is June 15 with the funeral the following day. Salazar said the family likely won’t see Layla’s body until soon before the visitation. Uvalde County Justice of the Peace Eulalio Diaz Jr. said the bodies of all 21 victims were sent to the medical examiner’s office in San Antonio for autopsies, which he said is standard for a major crime. Diaz said the autopsies are complete, but there simply isn’t enough space at Uvalde’s two funeral homes to keep all of the bodies, so many were sent to out-of-town funeral homes until services near. (Robb Elementary School may never reopen.)

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