A veteran educator whose dedication to a student with Down syndrome left a lasting impression. A jubilant 10-year-old whose dancing and joking lit up his family’s home. A fourth-grader who had just made the honor roll.
The names of those slain by a gunman at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday – including at least 19 children and two teachers – were only beginning to emerge in the hours afterward, as the grief-stricken community of 16,000 about 80 miles west of San Antonio tried to process what happened. Just days before summer break, an 18-year-old opened fire in a classroom, unleashing carnage not seen at a U.S. school in nearly a decade.
Here is what we know so far about the victims of the shooting.
Eva Mireles, 44
Mireles, an educator for 17 years, taught fourth-graders at Robb Elementary School, according to her aunt, Lydia Martinez Delgado, who confirmed that her niece was among those slain. Delgado said her nephew, Ruben Ruiz, was a police officer with the Uvalde school district and was married to Mireles. The couple’s daughter recently graduated from college, Delgado said.
“Welcome to the 4th grade! We have a wonderful year ahead of us!” Mireles wrote on the school website. “I have a supportive, fun, and loving family,” she added. “I love running, hiking, and now you just might see me riding a bike!!”
Delgado said Mireles was cheerful and active, and recalled a time she got up before sunrise with other relatives for a hike during a family gathering. “She did all she could to live a long life, and here it was cut short,” Delgado said in a phone interview early Wednesday.
Audrey Garcia said she will never forget the attention Mireles paid to her daughter Gabby, now 23, when she was in third grade.
“My daughter has Down syndrome, and she was one of the first students at that time to be included in a regular classroom,” said Garcia, who lives in San Antonio. “Ms. Mireles always went above and beyond. She never saw Gabby as having less potential than any of the other students.”
On Tuesday, Garcia posted a photo on Twitter of her daughter and Mireles that she said demonstrated the teacher’s dedication. Garcia said she last heard from Mireles about two years ago, after a local television station did a story on her daughter’s graduation from high school and her new jewelry business. Mireles would often reach out around Christmas, Garcia said, because Gabby had given her an ornament as a gift.
“She would say that she always thought about Gabby when she put up her Christmas tree,” Garcia said. “After all those years, she still cared about Gabby as a student. I just want everyone to know what kind of person she was and what kind of educator she was. I don’t want her to be forgotten.” – Moriah Balingit and Beth Reinhard
Xavier Lopez, 10
The Lopez household was teeming with children’s laughter and music – and its source, more often than not, was 10-year-old Xavier cracking a joke or dancing cumbia.
But the giggles and grooving sounds that once filled the air were replaced Tuesday by the pain of a life cut short, Xavier’s family said. The fourth-grader at Robb Elementary School was among those slain during Tuesday’s shooting rampage, his mother, Felicha Martinez, told The Washington Post.
“He was funny, never serious, and his smile,” Martinez said, her voice breaking. “That smile I will never forget. It would always cheer anyone up.”
Xavier “was so full of life,” she said, and a bright light for the family. Never one to shy away from the camera, he would sway his hips, wave his arms and energetically dance in the house with his brothers – moments of glee that Martinez captured for her TikTok account.
At school, Xavier enjoyed sports – soccer and baseball – and had a great interest in art, his favorite subject, Martinez said.
“He loved any activity in which he could be creative and especially get to draw,” Martinez said.
Nearly finished with his last year of elementary school, Xavier was counting the days until he would officially move up the academic ladder into Flores Middle School in Uvalde. “He really couldn’t wait to go to middle school,” his mother said.
His dreams seemed so close on Tuesday at Robb Elementary’s honor roll ceremony. Martinez was there to cheer him on as Xavier’s name was called to receive his certificate.
Hours before the tragedy, Martinez snapped a photo of Xavier. She told him she was proud and that she loved him, before hugging him goodbye. She said she did not imagine that would be the last moment she would share with her “mama’s boy.” – María Luisa Paúl
Jose Flores, 10
Jose, 10, was a fourth-grader at Robb Elementary who loved to play baseball, according to his uncle Christopher Salazar, who confirmed his nephew’s death.
“He was a very happy little boy. He loved both his parents . . . and loved to laugh and have fun,” Salazar said.
He said his nephew, who had two brothers and a sister, “loved going to school.” On Tuesday, hours before the shooting, Jose had received an award for making the honor roll.
“He was very smart,” Salazar said. “He wasn’t a kid who would look for trouble.” – Karina Elwood
Irma Garcia, 48
Irma Garcia, 48, a fourth-grade teacher at Robb Elementary, loved to cook and fish and teach youngsters how to read, said Jose Garcia, 19, one of her sons. She was wrapping up her 23rd year as a teacher – all of it spent at Robb – and she had won professional honors such as teacher of the year, her son said.
Jose Garcia said authorities confirmed his mother’s death on Tuesday evening.
“She treated her students as her own,” Jose Garcia said, recalling how his mother would rave about the children she was teaching at family dinners. He said his mother often decorated her classroom with college pennants, mascots and other items to inspire students to pursue higher education.
“She wanted to instill that in their brains,” he said. “They were her lifeblood. She loved engaging with children and teaching them. She loved her job and she loved her co-workers.”
John Martinez, 21, a nephew of Irma Garcia’s, said relatives will remember the beloved teacher as a hero. “They weren’t just her students,” he said Wednesday. “She lost her life to protect them. That’s the type of person she was.”
From year to year, her teaching assignments might vary among second, third or fourth grade. One year, Jose Garcia said, his mother was his third-grade teacher. Garcia said his mother and father, Joe Garcia, had four children – two sons and two daughters, ages 12 to 23 – and often hosted the extended family, including nieces, nephews and cousins, for holiday meals.
“She loved, loved, loved cooking,” Jose Garcia said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “She’s the best cook I have ever known. She’d always love feeding everyone, the whole family.”
Menudo was one of her favorite dishes, he said, along with everyday meals such as breakfast tacos with potatoes, chorizo and eggs. She also loved fishing, the son said, sometimes joining her husband on a pier along the Gulf Coast.
She had been married for more than 24 years, according to a biography the teacher posted on a school website at the beginning of the academic year. “Hello Boys and Girls! Let me introduce myself,” Irma Garcia wrote. “I am Mrs. Garcia and I will be one of your 4th grade teachers this year. I am so excited to begin this new school year already! I want to share some fun facts about myself.”
Among those facts, she wrote: “I love to BBQ with my husband, listen to music, and take country cruises to Concan.” She also wrote that she had been co-teaching for five years with Eva Mireles, another teacher slain Tuesday.
Jose Garcia, who just finished his freshman year at Texas State University, said he woke up to a text from his mother on Tuesday morning. She asked whether he’d be interested in a job as a physical education coach during summer school. He replied yes. Then came the news of the shooting and lockdown and agonizing hours of waiting. “It was very incoherent yesterday,” he said, “the way the whole day played out. I started getting worried. I texted her and never got a response back.”
Martinez said Irma Garcia was a constant presence for him, filling his life with laughter, love and support. She was there at moments big and small, he said, recalling how she encouraged him to tackle a steep roller coaster at Universal Studios when he was a child. Martinez said he often wished he was older, closer to Garcia’s age, so they could hang out, like friends.
“She was so funny and sweet,” Martinez said. “She had this random-joke kind of humor. Whatever you wouldn’t expect someone to say, she would say it.” Today, Martinez said, the family is in shock, angry, struggling to understand that Garcia will not be coming home. “Honestly, we’re all in shock. All of us are,” he said. “I mean, wouldn’t anyone be? In a circumstance like this?” – Nick Anderson and Marissa J. Lang
Navaeah Bravo, 10
Austin Ayala said his cousin, 10-year-old Navaeah Bravo, was one of the children killed in the shooting.
Navaeah’s family waited for hours to find out what happened, according to Ayala.
“We thought that she was missing, but lo and behold we heard late last night that she didn’t make it,” he said. “We were all devastated.”
The girl celebrated her 10th birthday in January, Ayala said. He said her family is now trying to understand why a shooter killed this child who “put a smile on everyone’s faces.”
“It just feels like a nightmare that we cannot wake up from,” he said. “Her siblings have to wake up every day knowing that she’s not there with them.” – Justin Wm. Moyer
Ellie Garcia, 10
Ellie Garcia loved her family. The second-oldest of five girls, the fourth-grader was always around her sisters. Ellie’s father is a DJ, and the girl was constantly singing and dancing with her siblings to the cumbia – a type of Latin music – he’d play. Her great aunt, Siria Arizmendi, described Ellie as “spontaneous,” saying the girl would break into song and dance at the family’s frequent gatherings.
She didn’t really care who you were,” Arizmendi said. “If you showed her you cared for her, she was very loving to you.”
Arizmendi said the family was full of love and she can’t remember Ellie ever fighting with her sisters. She also had a close bond with her maternal grandmother.
Outside of family, Ellie was an athlete. A little tall for her age, her favorite sport was basketball. “She was just very happy,” Arizmendi said.
The Garcia family spent Tuesday afternoon looking for Ellie. They went to the hospital, community places, searching for their daughter, Arizmendi said.
They learned of her death Tuesday evening, after authorities took DNA from parents to identify the fourth-grade victims. – Perry Stein
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The Washington Post’s Alice Crites, Jennifer Jenkins, Meryl Kornfield, Marissa Lang, Lauren Lumpkin, Monika Mathur, Razzan Nakhlawi and Perry Stein contributed to this report.