The victims fatally shot at a Texas elementary school Tuesday include 19 children — at least five of whom were fourth-graders — and two teachers trying to protect them, relatives told news outlets.
The students and educators were days from the end of the school year when they were fatally shot Tuesday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, west of San Antonio.
Eva Mireles, who taught fourth grade, had been an educator for 17 years, according to her profile at Robb Elementary.
Mireles was “trying to protect her students” from the gunman, a relative told The New York Times.
That did not surprise Mireles’ cousin, Amber Ybarra.
“She is a hero,” she said Wednesday on NBC’s “TODAY” show.
“Her cooking was amazing. Her laughter was contagious, and she’s going to be missed,” Ybarra added. “She put her heart into everything that she did.”
Mireles’ daughter, Adalynn Ruiz, posted a tribute on Facebook, calling her mother “the half that makes me whole.”
“Mom, I have no words to describe how I feel right now, tomorrow, and for the rest of my life. I never thought that I would be here writing this type of post for you. Mom, you are a hero. I keep telling myself that this isn’t real. I just want to hear your voice,” she wrote Wednesday in a lengthy post.
Ruiz shared memories from watching TikToks with her mom to singing karaoke.
“I want everything back. I want you to come back to me mom. I miss you more than words can explain,” Ruiz posted, adding: “You are so known by many now and I’m so happy that people know your name and that beautiful face of yours and they know what a hero looks like.”
Lydia Martinez Delgado, Mireles’ aunt, said her niece was an avid hiker who took pride in teaching students of Latino heritage, The Times reported.
Martinez Delgado told KSAT-TV of San Antonio that she was “furious” over the shooting and others, saying: “These children are innocent. Rifles should not be easily available to all. This is my hometown a small community of less than 20,000. I never imagined this would happen to especially to loved ones.”
Mireles’ co-teacher, Irma Garcia, was killed, according to her son, Christian Garcia.
Irma Garcia taught at the school for 23 years, according to her school profile. In 2019, she was one of 19 San Antonio-area teachers named a finalist for a Trinity University prize that recognizes excellence in teaching. Garcia had four children and loved barbecuing with her husband and listening to music.
Her son said a friend in law enforcement who was at the scene saw Garcia shielding her students.
Five fourth-graders were also among the dead, relatives confirmed to news outlets.
Uziyah Garcia was identified by his aunt, Nikki Cross, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported.
Xavier Lopez, 10, had been at an awards ceremony with his mother hours before the shooting, KSAT reported.
The father of Amerie Jo Garza identified her to NBC News as one of the victims. She was about to finish fourth grade, according to KSAT.
Amerie Jo was shot dialing 911 in an effort to help her classmates, her grandmother, Berlinda Irene Arreola, told The Daily Beast.
Arreola said authorities and survivors told her that the gunman told the students, “you’re going to die,” and Amerie Jo grabbed her phone to call police. “And instead of grabbing it and breaking it or taking it from her, he shot her. She was sitting right next to her best friend. Her best friend was covered in her blood,” Arreola said.
Amerie Jo had, earlier in the day, received a certificate for making the honor roll.
Christopher Salazar confirmed to The Washington Post that his nephew, Jose Flores Jr., 10, was also killed.
“I’m going to miss you baby Jose, i still can’t believe this happened my heart is broken just hearing them tell us your gone,” Salazar wrote in a Facebook post. “It hurts me I love you so much and I wish you were still here. I’m going to miss you soo much rest in paradise my beautiful angel.”
The uncle of Alithia Ramirez, a fourth grade student, confirmed her death to NBC News.
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10, a third-grade student was killed, family members told KHOU of Houston.
Eliahana Cruz Torres, 10, was confirmed dead, her grandfather, Adolfo Cruz, told ABC News. It was not clear if she was a fourth grade student, too.
The other children who were killed were not immediately identified.
“My heart was broken today,” Hal Harrell, the superintendent of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School, told reporters. “We’re a small community. And we’ll need your prayers to get us through this.”
The gunman is believed to have shot his grandmother before driving to the school and “shooting every single person that was in front of him,” said Lt. Chris Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The grandmother was hospitalized in critical condition, he said.
More than a dozen other people, including children and law enforcement officers, were also injured.
Janelle Griffith, Kurt Chirbas, Irene Byon, Sara Mhaidli, Elisha Fieldstadt, Daniel Arkin, Bianca Britton and Maya Brown contributed.