‘I didn’t want to let go of my kids this morning’: Grief, love, kindness and anger over Texas school killings

In a small town like Uvalde, there is no avoiding the shockwave of what happened on Tuesday morning.

It feels as if everyone here knows someone who was caught up in the horrors of the deadliest school shooting in the US for nearly a decade.

Throughout the day, locals picked their way past police road blocks and camera crews to pay their respects at the Robb Elementary School.

Joseph Avila, left, prays while holding flowers honoring the victims killed in Tuesday...s shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. Desperation turned to heart-wrenching sorrow for families of grade schoolers killed after an 18-year-old gunman barricaded himself in their Texas classroom and began shooting, killing at least 19 fourth-graders and their two teachers. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Image:Joseph Avila prays while holding flowers honouring the victims

The spectacular storms which lashed the city in the hours after the shooting had cleared to leave a steamy, clear blue sky. In the heat, they handed flowers and balloons to the Texas State Troopers standing guard at the school.

A state trooper takes flowers to place them at a makeshift memorial honoring the victims killed at Robb Elementary School
Image:A state trooper takes flowers to place them at a makeshift memorial honouring the victims killed at Robb Elementary School

The disbelief, the horror, the anger that this could happen in a quiet, residential neighbourhood like this was palpable.

“I didn’t want to let go of my kids this morning,” Amanda Welch said. “It is hard to find the words for it. I’m just numb.”

The stories of those who lost their lives in their classroom are now being told. The lives cut short, the teachers who tried to protect them.

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Even the bigger questions of how America addresses a problem that is seemingly unique to it – horrific levels of gun violence – seem somewhat meaningless in the torrent of grief in this town.

Remy Ragsdale, 3, attends a protest organized by Moms Demand Action on Wednesday May 25, 2022, at the Governor's Mansion in Austin, Texas, after a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
Image:Remy Ragsdale, 3, attends a protest organized by Moms Demand Action at the Governor’s Mansion in Austin, Texas

Their politicians seemed to deaf to that sensitivity with the unseemly shouting match at the governor’s news conference. It was evidence, if anyone needed it, that this debate does rage on though.

It is somehow incongruous to see the volunteers with their therapy dogs, the church folks offering spiritual support, the outpouring of love and kindness from the community, against a backdrop of such awful violence.

America is a land of such contradictions – and few answers.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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