A Year After Uvalde, Families Feel 'Betrayal'

Parents are still seeking answers in a Texas city torn by massacre that killed 19 children, 2 teachers
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 24, 2023 2:30 AM CDT
Updated May 24, 2023 6:02 AM CDT
A Year After Uvalde, Grieving and Tensions Remain
A man pays his respects at a memorial at Robb Elementary School on June 9 in Uvalde, Texas.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Wednesday is the one-year anniversary of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 students and two teachers dead. Plans are in the works for a new school to replace the one where the massacre took place, in a different location in the city. "Most of the families will say, 'How can we build something there when the devil's there?'" Lalo Diaz, co-chair of the panel overseeing the new school's design and the search for a new site, says of the current school. Construction on the building—which will feature an interior courtyard that offers a "protected outdoor space," per Texas Public Radio; a two-story steel tree that memorializes the victims; and just three exterior doors—should begin late this summer on a lot next to another local elementary school. The old Robb Elementary School will be torn down. More on the Uvalde anniversary:

  • Gun rights bills have flourished: Axios notes that more gun rights bills than safety measures have been greenlit by lawmakers in various states since Uvalde, including legislation expanding firearms access, keeping gun sales private, and protecting gun manufacturers from liability. Arkansas leads the pack, with seven new related laws.
  • Mixed feelings on how to pay tribute: The city of Uvalde is struggling with how to commemorate the anniversary. Some families of victims plan on holding a vigil on Wednesday behind the local civic center, per KHOU. But Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin and other local officials have issued a letter asking people not to converge on the city, noting that cars in front of the school or other memorial sites would be towed. McLaughlin defends his response, noting he's afraid outsiders will bother those still grieving.
  • A community torn: That rift is indicative of wider ones, as reported by the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Tensions continue to erupt between victims' families and law enforcement, as well as between gun owners and those now pushing hard for gun safety. There's also pushback against advocates for victims' families who want more information on what happened, and more legislation. "Some of their neighbors, however, want the noise to stop," the Journal notes. "We used to be a close community," Jesse Rizo, the uncle of one of the shooting victims, tells the Times. "Now it's like we don't know each other anymore."

  • Feeling betrayed: Javier Cazares, whose 9-year-old daughter, Jacklyn, was killed in the shooting, is one of those parents seeking answers. He not only thinks that his child might still be alive if police had gone into her classroom earlier, but also that authorities have failed to own up to their mistakes and offer crucial details to families. "The first couple months, you know, it still seemed unreal," he tells NBC News. "And now, it's like betrayal." The AP reports that a criminal investigation into law enforcement's response to the shooting continues.
  • Preventable? Writing for Mother Jones, Mark Follman notes that the "disastrous police response demands further scrutiny." But he also shines a light on "another crucial side of the Uvalde tragedy": whether heeding warning signs from the shooter could have stopped the attack altogether.
  • New footage: The Independent shows graphic bodycam video, originally aired on CNN, of police officers crying, embracing each other, and vomiting at the scene of the massacre. Mothers of some of the surviving children asked to see horrific video from that day, and they also asked CNN to show images of their bloodied, crying kids to help others more fully understand what happened that day. The parents want to "make sure it doesn't happen again," says Jamie Torres, whose daughter, 10-year-old Khloie Torres, covered herself in blood and played dead to keep the gunman from shooting her. (Warning: Both the footage and images are distressing.)
  • Survivors and security: Children who lived through the massacre still don't feel completely secure at the thought of going back to school, but an invention they've seen on TikTok—a whiteboard "safe room" that can be nestled into the corner of a classroom—is helping to convince them. Politico dives more into that safety measure and asks a big question: "How do you make schools safe without hardening them to the point that it exacerbates mental health issues among students and makes schools inhospitable to learning?"
  • Memorial: The Austin American-Statesman highlights photos of a commemorative site in Uvalde dedicated to the victims.
(More Uvalde mass shooting stories.)

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