'It is hard sometimes to see God through all of this,' pastor says as families grieve Uvalde shooting victims

A mourner attends a vigil at Sacred Heart Catholic Church for victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. According to reports, 19 students and two adults were killed before the gunman was fatally shot by law enforcement. | Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

At least 21 victims, including 19 students and two teachers, have been confirmed dead after a lone 18-year-old gunman went on a shooting rampage in a single classroom at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, leaving behind a trail of horror and grief.

Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson Chris Olivarez told CNN Wednesday morning that all the injuries and fatalities took place in one classroom.

University Health, a hospital in San Antonio, also confirmed on Wednesday that they were caring for four patients connected to the shooting, including the late gunman’s 66-year-old grandmother, who remains in serious condition. The other patients are a 10-year-old girl in serious condition, another 10-year-old girl in good condition, and a 9-year-old girl also in good condition.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott identified the shooter as Salvador Ramos, a student at Uvalde High School, who was shot and killed at the scene. He reportedly shot his grandmother prior to the attack at the school, which took place at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Six of the 21 victims of the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas (clockwise): Xavier Lopez, 10; Amerie Jo Garza, 10; Uziyah Garcia, 8; Irma Garcia, 46; Eva Mireles, 44; and Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10. | Screenshots: Twitter

While an official list of all the dead has not yet been released by authorities, a number of victims have been identified on social media, including: Xavier Lopez, 10; Amerie Jo Garza, 10; Uziyah Garcia, 8; Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10;  along with teachers Eva Mireles, 44; and Irma Garcia, 46.

Lisa Garza, 54, of Arlington, Texas, told The Associated Press that Xavier was her cousin and he loved life.

“He was just a loving 10-year-old little boy, just enjoying life, not knowing that this tragedy was going to happen today,” she said. “He was very bubbly, loved to dance with his brothers, his mom. This has just taken a toll on all of us.”

Amerie’s grandmother, Berlinda Irene Arreola, told The Daily Beast that her granddaughter was trying to call 911 when she was killed.

“My granddaughter was shot and killed for trying to call 911. She died a hero trying to get help for her and her fellow classmates,” Arreola wrote in a text message to the news outlet.

Amerie’s father, Alfred Garza III, told The New York Times that she was “full of life, a jokester, always smiling.”

He said even though his daughter never talked a lot about school, she liked spending time with her friends during recess at the playground.

“She was very social,” he said. “She talked to everybody.”

The grieving father who works at a used-car dealership said he thought his family was finally getting a break after losing several members to COVID-19 until the killing of his daughter.

“We were finally getting a break, nobody was passing away,” Garza told the Times. “Then this happened.”

Uziyah’s grandfather, Manny Renfro, told the AP that he was “the sweetest little boy that I’ve ever known.”

“I’m not just saying that because he was my grandkid,” Renfro told the news agency.

He said his grandson had last visited him in San Angelo while on spring break and he was teaching him to play football.

“We started throwing the football together and I was teaching him pass patterns. Such a fast little boy and he could catch a ball so good,” Renfro recalled. “There were certain plays that I would call that he would remember and he would do it exactly like we practiced.”

The Rev. Y.J. Jimenez, who leads the First Baptist Church in Bracketville, was in the waiting room at Uvalde Memorial Hospital on Tuesday offering support to family members of shooting victims.

He told the Times that two of his parishioners lost their grandchild and he had never had to deal with such grief in his 30 years of ministry.

“Sometimes it’s about the presence and the prayers. In times like these all you can do is cry,” he said.

Jimenez recalled how he first began receiving calls about the shooting before noon and when he arrived at the hospital the grief of the affected families including his parishioners was overwhelming.

“They had to endure the most difficult thing, they could not find their grandson,” he said. “And then when they found it, it was devastating.”

He said he offered his parishioners and their grandson’s four surviving siblings support as best as he could.

“This has impacted us,” he said. “We come to let them know how much we care and how much we love them and offer support any way they can. We are at a loss. It is hard sometimes to see God through all of this.”

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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