The man who identified the Texas shooting victims said he found the children of friends and one of his former classmates lying among the dead.
Eulalio Diaz Jr, justice of the peace of Uvalde, had the terrible task of identifying the bodies. He acts as coroner because the small town does not have a medical examiner.
He said he tried to prepare for the worst scene possible, but what he saw at Robb Elementary School was beyond his imagination.
Upstairs, where the 21 victims died after the gunman barricaded himself, was teacher Irma Garcia – who a survivor said had tried to protect her students from the attack.
“She was a year behind me in school, at Uvalde High School. We were together in middle school and high school,” said Mr. Diaz, 49.
In a town of only 15,000 people, he said “everyone knows everyone else” and among the hellish scene were the children of friends.
Mr Diaz said it was an excruciating task because “kids don’t wear IDs, they don’t have name badges”.
Determined to spare parents the task of having to identify their children, he used photos and descriptions of what they were wearing that day.
However, some victims were so badly injured by the teenage killer’s semi-automatic weapon that the Texas Rangers had to ask the families for DNA samples.
Photos of the 21 victims of Tuesday’s shootingincluding 19 students and two teachers, have now emerged as families and friends pay their respects on social media.
“When I got home last night after identifying all the victims, I started getting messages on Facebook and realized I knew the parents and even the grandparents of many of the children,” Ms. Diaz.
“My job is to make sure we hand over the body of the right person to their family,” he added.
“My job is to return the bodies of these children to their families.”
The shooting has reignited a national debate over the country’s gun laws. President Joe Biden and fellow Democrats
promised to push for new restrictions, despite resistance from Republicans.
Democrats control both houses of Congress and the presidency, but individual states tend to adopt their own regulations.
Also, since 2008, when the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on the second amendment to the American Constitution – the one that gives Americans the right to “bear arms” – guarantees the right to own a handgun, gun ownership as a right was cemented in the Constitution.
New details on how tuesday tragedy deployed have appeared.
The father of one of the victims said he wanted to load in the school because the police outside “didn’t do anything the way they’re supposed to”.
Officials admitted that the 18-year-old shooter, Salvador Ramos, remained in the school until an hour before a special team entered and forced their way into the locked classroom.
Javier Cazares, whose daughter Jacklyn was killed, said he rushed to school when he heard about the shooting, and arrived while police were still outside .
He said he suggested charging with other passers-by.
“Let’s go fast because the cops aren’t doing anything like they’re supposed to,” he said. “More could have been done.”
“They weren’t prepared.”
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The shooter’s motive is still unclear and he reportedly had no known criminal or mental health history.
Just before shooting, he sent private messages to a Facebook contact where he said he would kill his grandmother and “shoot an elementary school”.
Posts also appeared on Instagram and TikTok in the days leading up to the shooting, including a selfie of the shooter in front of a mirror.
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