The morning of the shooting at Texas’ Robb Elementary School, fourth-grader Jailah Silguero had asked her mother if she could stay home.
But with just two days left in the school year, her mom insisted she go to class. “Jailah didn’t want to go to school yesterday,” her grandmother Linda Gonzales told The Daily Beast on Wednesday. “That’s what her momma was really upset about last night: ‘If only I had let her stay home.’”
“The girl was disappointed,” Gonzales added, “She wanted to stay home with momma.”
On Tuesday night, Jailah’s mother Veronica Luevanos learned her daughter was among the 19 children killed when a teenage gunman opened fire inside a fourth-grade classroom at the school in Uvalde. The girl’s little cousin, Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, also died in the massacre.
Gonzales said Jailah and Jayce were the babies of a family that was already in mourning before Tuesday’s horror.
Just a week before, the family mourned the loss of Veronica’s father and held a memorial for him at Jailah’s uncle’s home in Odessa, Gonzales said. “He was in Mexico so they didn’t get to see him,” Gonzales added. “I told Veronica last night, ‘Just look at it as your daddy taking your baby with him.’”
“They were just so sweet,” Gonzales said. “They were sweet kids and lovable. What can you say about little innocent kids?” She said Jayce loved to make people laugh, and Jailah loved to dance and was learning to record Tik Tok videos.
“I don’t have words. We think this is a small community, it can’t happen here, but oh my God, it’s happening anywhere.”
Zeke Luevanos, Gonzales’ son-in-law and Veronica’s brother, was among the parents, friends, and relatives who drove to Uvalde to help loved ones find their missing children. He told the Los Angeles Times that his siblings provided DNA samples to help link them to their missing kids.
According to Gonzales, Veronica’s phone died as they waited hours outside the school and at the Uvalde civic center for answers. “They didn’t realize there were dead children in the school,” Gonzales said. “They kept telling them: go to [the] hospital or go to the civic center. Nobody was told there’s dead kids in there. Nobody.”
Veronica traveled back and forth from the civic center to the school, hoping her daughter was one of the children who fled the building. There were rumors that a child had jumped through a window and was hiding in the brush for hours.
Meanwhile, Gonzales said one of her nephews, who works for the local sheriff’s department and responded to the horrific scene, had to go home because his clothes were drenched in blood.
“He picked up some children to lay them in someplace so they could be covered,” Gonzales said. “He’ll never forget the scene.”
Gonzales said she’s outraged that the 18-year-old shooter could obtain an assault weapon.
“How can they allow an 18-year-old to purchase a weapon when they don’t allow them to buy alcohol or liquor? They can’t buy liquor or cigarettes but they can buy a weapon. We don’t know what to think.”
On Facebook, Veronica mourned the loss of her daughter.
“Why why my baby,” she wrote. “Fly high baby grandma n grandpa are with their arms wide open for baby. We're going to miss u so much my wera Chula my lil side kick.”
He then took off in his grandmother’s truck but crashed in a ditch near Robb Elementary, a school of about 600 mostly Latino students, prompting a witness to call 911. Local police approached Ramos but he opened fire at them before running onto school grounds and barricading himself in veteran teacher Irma Garcia’s fourth-grade classroom, where he began firing indiscriminately at kids and teachers.
Throughout Wednesday, friends and relatives continued to pay tribute to the victims.
Ellie Garcia, who would have turned 10 next month, loved Encanto, cheerleading, and basketball, her grandparents told the Los Angeles Times. Her older sister, 11-year-old Janel, is struggling to understand what happened to her.
The fourth-grader played for the Spurs in the Tree City Youth Basketball League, with one team organizer sharing kind words about her on Facebook.
Ellie’s teammate, Lexi Rubio, was also killed in Tuesday’s massacre, while a third teammate named Mayah was injured.
“Our Spurs lost 2 precious souls. #11 Lexie #21 Ellie . #1 Mayah was also injured. Please pray for her healing and comfort,” Erica Mena, whose husband coaches the team, wrote on Facebook.
“Ellie was our hype girl and the heart of the team, she never missed a practice and was the loudest when it came to cheering for her team! She was never in a bad mood and gave it her all on and off the court. Lexie was our quiet one, but boy when it came to game time she was aggressive and made every basket look soo easy. They were kind, sweet, funny girls and made us proud !”
“We are heartbroken for the families and friends of these girls and all the victims of this senseless act. Uvalde isn’t just a town , it’s one big family. What affects one affects all.”