Shortly after Tuesday’s deadly shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas left 19 students and two adults dead, Laura Mejia shared a photo to Facebook of her 10-year-old cousin Xavier Javier Lopez — posing while wearing a yellow soccer jersey at a local Burger King — asking for help locating the boy. “Please help us,” she wrote. Less than an hour later, she’d update her post, revealing that the fourth grader had died. “He has been found, fly high handsome angel,” she wrote. “Til we meet again.” According to San Antonio’s KSAT, Lopez’s mother was with her son at a school awards ceremony just hours before the shooting. It would be the last time she’d see Xavier alive.
Mejia’s post was just one of many shared by parents and family members of Robb Elementary School students across social media in the aftermath of the shooting, each detailing the same heartbreaking story: A child is missing, and no one — neither police nor school officials nor medical personnel — has provided any useful leads. As night fell on Uvalde, some parents were still unable to locate their children. Speaking to ABC 13 Houston, Father Brandon Elrod stated he’d been searching for his 10-year-old daughter for hours. “She may not be alive,” he said, holding back tears. In a message to Rolling Stone, Rob Trevino shared that his niece remained among the missing. “Not much to say right now,” he wrote.
This is 10-year-old Xavier. His family confirms to @ABC that he was shot and killed at school today in Uvalde, TX. He was in 4th grade. His cousin says, Xavier’s mom was at his award ceremony 1-2 hours prior to the shooting, not knowing it would be the last time she saw her son. pic.twitter.com/fDFOH9egFF
— Abigail Ogle (@KOCOAbigail) May 25, 2022
While some families continued to wait into the evening, others received the news they had been dreading. “My nephew was a victim of a school shooting today,” Mitch Renfro wrote on Facebook, updating his friends on the status of the young boy whose photo he’d posted to his timeline just hours earlier. “An 8 year old was killed by a crazy man.”
Lydia Salazar Torrez was at her job in San Antonio when she realized several of her nieces and nephews were at the school. Eventually she learned her sister Angela’s son, Giovanni Gomez, was one of the kids who ran across the street to a neighbor’s house. Another nephew was the last boy that hero teacher Eva Mireles, 44, managed to help out the window of her fourth-grade classroom before she was shot and killed, she says. One by one, her nieces and nephews were accounted for – until the family’s worst fears were realized. Little Jose, the 10-year-old son of Torrez’s niece Alyssa Rodriguez, had died.
“Jose was the only one who didn’t make it out,” Torrez tells Rolling Stone. “It’s horrible. We can’t even believe this has happened. We can’t. It shouldn’t have happened. Jose was nothing but heaven. He’s his mom’s first-born. He was in a good mood all the time, always saying hello to everybody. It’s a tragedy. It’s something that the whole world is never going to forget.”
Torrez says Mireles was a hero for helping her other nephew escape. “He was the last little boy she helped out of the window. And then she got shot,” Torrez says.
Facebook became a virtual gathering place for Robb Elementary parents to share updates on the status of their children. “I don’t ask for much or hardly even post on here but please It’s been 7 hours and I still haven’t heard anything on my love,” Angel Garza wrote on Facebook, asking his friends to “help me find my daughter.” “Help me find my baby,” Jennifer Lugo said as news broke about the shooting. “If anyone hears or sees anything please let me know,” she later added, posting a photo of her daughter taken Tuesday. “Everyone is telling to check places I can’t leave !!!!! Please HELPPPPP !!!”
For many parents, the hours spent searching remained fruitless. “They sent us to a hospital, to the Civic Center, to the hospital, then here again,” Father Federico Torres told KHOU 11 reporter Anayeli Ruiz. “Nothing, in San Antonio — they won’t tell us anything, just a photo and waiting. We’re just waiting for everything to be okay.” Authorities reportedly told family members a DNA sample is needed to assist in the identification of victims, and a stream of worried parents were seen filing into the local civic center to get swabbed.
By early evening, Mireles was identified as the adult victim killed at Robb Elementary. “It’s all just hitting me. It’s crazy,” Johnny Delgado, Mireles’ cousin, tells Rolling Stone. “She was the most outgoing and generous person, always happy. She’d do anything for all the kids she taught and all my little cousins and nieces and nephews.”
Delgado described his cousin as a role model in the family. “If you couldn’t find her, she was at the track, running with her husband and her daughter. They always stayed fit, fit, fit. After work, they would go to the track, ride bikes or run a mile or two. They were like a fitness family. That’s how they stayed close,” he says. “She was a little older than me, but she’s always been there for me if I ever needed someone to talk to.”
The public pleas for help to locate loved ones, like Mejia’s, were shared widely by folks in the Uvalde and San Antonio area. “This is just evil,” Rey Chapa, an uncle to one of the schoolchildren, told the New York Times. “I’m afraid I’m going to know a lot of these kids that were killed.”