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Massacre in Texas | Weapons and Tears

(Uvalde) After the shock, the anger. The community of Uvalde, Texas wants to know how an 18-year-old boy was able to break into an elementary school so easily and shoot 21 people there, including 19 children. And while crosses appear all over the city in memory of the victims, thoughts on access to firearms occupy people’s minds.

Posted yesterday at 5:00 a.m.

Lila Dussault

Lila Dussault
The Press

“Every day, it’s harder and harder,” says Beatriz Fraire. The 43-year-old mother and grandmother welcomed The Press in his small house in a neighborhood in eastern Uvalde, opposite the Robb Primary School area, where Tuesday’s killings took place. On the walls, photos of her five children stand alongside crucifixes and balloons, memories of Mother’s Day.

“How did the shooter get to the school?” M wondersme Frying. He had plenty of time to walk [de son camion jusqu’à l’établissement], and no one stopped him! A sense of frustration emerges, especially after the press conference of the Texas Department of Public Safety’s regional director for the downstate, who said Thursday that the shooter was able to enter the school “without obstacle” . “We want answers, adds M.me Frying. We want to know exactly what happened! »

  • Children came to pray in front of the crosses set up on the grounds of Robb Primary School, in Uvalde, where 19 pupils were killed.

    PHOTO DARIO LOPEZ-MILLS, ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Children came to pray in front of the crosses set up on the grounds of Robb Primary School, in Uvalde, where 19 pupils were killed.

  • Alithia Ramirez's mother writes a last word to her daughter, who died in the shooting.

    PHOTO CHANDAN KHANNA, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

    Alithia Ramirez’s mother writes a last word to her daughter, who died in the shooting.

  • A religious ceremony and a candlelight vigil were held in the city.

    PHOTO BRYAN WOOLSTON, REUTERS

    A religious ceremony and a candlelight vigil were held in the city.

  • Large banner in front of Beatriz Fraire's house, which reads “Uvalde Strong”.

    PHOTO LILA DUSSAULT, THE PRESS

    Large banner in front of Beatriz Fraire’s house, which reads “Uvalde Strong”.

  • José Manuel Flores, aged 10, is one of the victims of the massacre.  His family erected a small altar in front of his house.

    PHOTO LILA DUSSAULT, THE PRESS

    José Manuel Flores, aged 10, is one of the victims of the massacre. His family erected a small altar in front of his house.

  • There were many tears among those who had come to meditate in front of the crosses.

    PHOTO DARIO LOPEZ-MILLS, ASSOCIATED PRESS

    There were many tears among those who had come to meditate in front of the crosses.

  • Police officers carry bags filled with teddy bears left on the grounds of the elementary school by the citizens of Uvalde.

    PHOTO MARCO BELLO, REUTERS

    Police officers carry bags filled with teddy bears left on the grounds of the elementary school by the citizens of Uvalde.

  • Shane Rehman stands in front of a cross in memory of Uziyah Garcia, one of the victims of the shooting at Robb Elementary School.

    PHOTO VERONICA CARDENAS, REUTERS

    Shane Rehman stands in front of a cross in memory of Uziyah Garcia, one of the victims of the shooting at Robb Elementary School.

  • One of the businesses selling firearms in Uvalde was closed at the passage of La Presse on Tuesday, despite its usual opening hours.

    PHOTO LILA DUSSAULT, THE PRESS

    One of the businesses selling firearms in Uvalde was closed when The PressTuesday, despite its usual opening hours.

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Life will never be the same for his family. Beatriz’s 9-year-old grandson, whose name she chose not to mention, is one of the few survivors of the class where the 18-year-old shot dead 19 students and two female teachers in cold blood on Tuesday , before succumbing to police bullets. It is the deadliest mass shooting in state history.

Hiding under a desk, the boy has seen it all. “The shooter, his comrades hit by the bullets, his teachers who collapse on the students…”, says Mme Fraire, her voice hesitating and staring into space, as if she saw the same thing. “There are just no words. »

In the street next door, a small altar has been erected in memory of 10-year-old José Manuel Flores. The family gave permission to The Press to photograph it, but preferred not to testify. “I feel that we [les gens de la communauté] are not ready to talk, explains Mr.me Frying. It’s too early, it all happened too fast. It’s like a nightmare from which we can’t wake up. »





Duty of memory

It was time for meditation on Thursday for the approximately 16,000 inhabitants of Uvalde, assailed by hordes of journalists, visitors and good Samaritans. The typically American city, set on the Texan plain about a hundred kilometers from the border with Mexico, is crossed by two straight main streets with four lanes, lined with shops. Around, small residential neighborhoods, with quiet streets and single-storey houses under lush vegetation.

At Robb Elementary School, 21 small white crosses adorned with flowers bearing the names of the 21 victims had appeared next to the sign announcing “Robb Elementary School – Bienvenidos”. The place has become a memorial dedicated to the victims.

As the day went on, families took turns to lay bouquets there. Here, a mother and her three children. There, two teenage girls, long hair and heads bowed. An older lady in a wheelchair, pushed by a nurse and accompanied by a policeman, carried her flowers, hunched over. The atmosphere there was silent, solemn, under a dazzling sun.

Behind the memorial, Robb Elementary School – consisting of several one-story buildings – is nestled under tall trees, to protect it from the high Texas heat. In the streets of the quiet neighborhood, the silence was interspersed with the crowing of roosters, the cooing of birds and dogs barking at the few passers-by behind the fences.

Another place of contemplation has emerged in the heart of the city, at the “Placita”, as Beatriz Fraire calls it. In this small square located at the corner of Main and Gerry streets – the center of the municipality – 21 other crosses topped with blue hearts have been installed, courtesy of the Lutheran Church. “This community needs less politics, and more love, faith,” says Shane Rehman after kneeling for a long time in front of the cross in memory of Uziyah Garcia, whom he describes as a child who adored play outside. Mr. Rehman was a family friend.

No guns for young people

Tuesday’s shooting quickly reignited the debate over gun access in the United States. Recall that last September, Texas adopted one of the most permissive laws in the country by authorizing the carrying of the pistol in public, without restriction.

The one identified as the killer, Salvador Ramos, had no criminal record or known psychological issues at this point. “There weren’t really any warning signs of his crime,” state Governor Greg Abbott said Wednesday.

On May 17, the day after he turns 18, he buys a semi-automatic assault rifle. Two days later, 375 cartridges. And on May 20, he acquired a second rifle, detailed Wednesday the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steven McCraw. Two weapons then appear on an Instagram account that seems to be his, since deactivated.

Investigators are now looking into text messages Ramos allegedly sent on the Yubo platform minutes before the massacre, including one that he was about to ‘shoot at an elementary school,’ a law enforcement source told The Associated. Press on condition of anonymity.

For Beatriz Fraire, young people should not be able to get firearms, period. “The law is on the wrong track,” she argues. Babies, children should not be allowed to buy weapons. The shooter was 18, he wasn’t mature enough to have one! »

A vision shared by Albert Villega, a “volunteer prior” from nearby San Antonio, on hand to offer his support. “It’s like the Wild Wild West, where everyone has the right to carry a weapon, he denounces. We need more restrictive laws! »

For Jesse Ortiz, a 50-year-old man living in front of the Robb school met the day before by The Press, access to weapons should instead be expanded. “I know that not everyone shares my opinion, he confided, but in my opinion, we should arm the teachers. Because they are the first line of defense for our children. Not the police. »

Beatriz Fraire would now like to see armed guards at the school gates. “We don’t feel safe,” she says.

While waiting for answers, the survivors of the shooting must live with the horror. “I don’t want to go back to work,” said Mr.me Fraire, voice quavering. Because I’m afraid, if I leave my children, of never seeing them again. »

Learn more

  • 1,006,555
    Number of gun licenses in Texas in 2021

    SOURCES: RAND CORPORATION AND CBC NEWS

    45.7%
    Proportion of adults living in a home with a firearm in Texas

    SOURCES: RAND CORPORATION AND CBC NEWS

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