Grieving Texas town starts to lay to rest mass shooting victims

·2-min read
Joe Biden comforts the headteacher of the  Robb elementary school.  (AP)
Joe Biden comforts the headteacher of the Robb elementary school. (AP)

The grieving Texas town of Uvalde has begun to lay to rest the 21 children and teachers who were killed in a mass shooting at an elementary school a week ago.

They died after 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos stormed the school with a semi automatic rifle.

The funerals of Amerie Jo Garza and Amerie Jo Garza, both aged ten, were held on Tuesday.

Amerie Jo Garza was “sweet, sassy and funny, and loved swimming and drawing”, according to obituaries on the websites of Uvalde’s two funeral homes.

Maite Yuleana Rodriguez was an honour student who loved learning about whales and dolphins and dreamed of becoming a marine biologist.

Amerie’s funeral was to be held at Uvalde’s Sacred Heart Catholic Church while a service for Maite was taking place at a funeral home.

The children were killed along with 17 other students, all aged 9 to 11, and two teachers.

Over the next two weeks, a series of funerals will take place in the town of 16,00.

Among those are services for the two teachers who died - Eva Mireles, 44, and Irma Garcia, 48.

Garcia’s husband Jose Garcia 50 died of a heart attack two days after the shooting.

A joint funeral is planned on Wednesday for the couple who met in high school and had four children.

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said in a statement: “Our focus on Tuesday is on our families who lost loved ones. We begin burying our children tomorrow, the innocent victims of last week’s murders at Robb Elementary School.”

Local police waited outside the classroom for nearly an hour as children called the 911 emergency number pleading for help before a US Border Patrol tactical team burst in and killed the shooter.

Videos have emerged showing the chaotic scene outside of the school where desperate parents gathered as police responded to the attack.

An investigation is underway into the police reaction to the incident.

As the town grieves, the country again grapples with whether to reform federal and state gun laws which in Texas allowed the killer to legally buy an AR-15-style weapon on his 18th birthday - a week before the massacre.

He also bought hundreds of rounds of ammunition and a second rifle in the subsequent days.

US President Joe Biden travelled to Uvalde on Sunday where he met with officials and those left bereaved.

The Democrats have called for more restrictions, including a ban on assault-style weapons and universal background checks.

Republicans have successfully held off tougher gun laws, and in many states expanded gun rights in recent years, saying gun control only deprives law-abiding citizens of their rights.

However, Republican Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson expressed his willingness for a “conversation” on raising the minimum age to purchase a semiautomatic rifle from 18 to 21.

“I think you’ve got to be able to talk about the AR-15 style weapons. And whether that’s an 18 or 21 age. You have to at least have a conversation,” Hutchinson told CNN on Tuesday.

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