Two mothers face the unimaginable in Uvalde
When Quiroz arrived at the civic center, her son Ruben was waiting for her. The parents all around them were distraught. “Everyone was on the sidewalk, looking at the other kids, hoping it was their kid,” she said. On a whiteboard, volunteers wrote down the names of teachers whose classes had been rescued. A group of children who had jumped out of their classroom window and fled to a nearby funeral home arrived in Border Patrol vans. Other buses stopped and children rushed to their parents’ arms. As the hours passed, Quiroz and his sister noticed that two teachers were nowhere in sight: Ms. Garcia and Ms. Mireles.
Carolina’s son arrived on the last bus, but their cousin’s son was still missing: ten-year-old Jayce Carmelo Luevanos. “We stayed with my cousin until midnight, looking for her son,” Quiroz recalls. The two sisters commuted between school and the civic center while their cousin waited in the hospital. They remained hopeful. It was possible, they thought, that he had been airlifted to a hospital in San Antonio by helicopter. “All this time, we didn’t know they still had the bodies of the children who weren’t doing well at all,” Quiroz said. “As soon as they asked for her DNA test, she knew.”
The police revelations haunted Quiroz and his family. Could Jayce have been saved if the agents had stormed the classroom sooner? Given that the police department was a mile and a half from the school, why did it take the officers twelve minutes to arrive? At the restaurant, Quiroz met Carolina and their cousin’s wife, Amber, who co-owns the restaurant. “They said they were waiting for the keys to open the doors,” Carolina said. “He” – the shooter – “entered through the doors, so how were they they or they wait for the keys? Quiroz added, “The parents were breaking the windows. How could the cops not break windows? The police are a fucking joke.
“They are so full of shit,” Amber replied.
“There’s only one guy with an AR-15,” Quiroz said. “If any of you get shot on the way in, well, that’s your oath. You took an oath to serve and protect. But you do nothing. You’re here letting those kids get killed.
After finishing their shifts at the restaurant, Quiroz and Carolina took their children to a family reunion at their mother’s house, a two-story house with a lush garden and a collection of wind chimes. Sitting on the porch, four boys between the ages of seven and ten recalled how they had survived the massacre. Orlando, Carolina’s ten-year-old son, remained in her classroom, while Ruben, Quiroz’s nine-year-old son, was in the cafeteria.
Ruben noted that the teachers were taking whatever action they could. “They turned off all the lights and closed the blinds,” he said. After a few minutes, they rushed his class into the school auditorium. An hour later, he was escorted out of school by his teacher and taken to an elderly neighbor. “She gave us water,” recalls Ruben with a half-smile. Shortly after, he was reunited with his mother at the civic center.
Ryan, Ruben’s younger brother, who is in first grade at a nearby school, said he was taken from his class to an auditorium. “We watched three movies,” he says proudly. “’Nemo’, ‘Toy Story 1’ and ‘Toy Story 2’, but we haven’t finished it.
Their cousin Orlando said he wished the police had acted sooner. “They could have shot him before he killed anyone,” he said. And then he praised his teachers. “All the teachers had scissors, so if he had come in they could have stabbed him.”
“Stab him to death!” said Ryan.
The boys talked about the different types of firearms they had seen. “There was a guy helping the police with a gun,” Orlando said. “A weapon like mine.”
His aunt corrected him. “Oh, no, a gun like yours?” said Quiroz.
“Mine is a pellet gun,” Orlando said, “but I don’t want it anymore.”