Aida Hernandez cries as she leaves the place of worship, called Sacred Heart Church, a simple gray brick building near the main thoroughfare of Uvalde.
“I felt horror and pain. I knew the victims. I’m still in shock,” the 60-year-old professor told AFP. targeted until his retirement two years ago.
The city of 15,000 inhabitants, located 80km from the Mexican border, was still twenty-four hours ago a small town without history, as there are so many in the United States, with its perpendicular and parallel streets dotted with shopping malls, gas stations and fast food chain.
But at midday on Tuesday that tranquility was shattered when 18-year-old Salvador Ramos burst into Robb Elementary School with an assault rifle, barricaded himself in a classroom and began to shoot students, aged 9 to 10, and two teachers present, before being shot dead by the police.
This massacre, one of the worst in recent years in the country, has provoked the incomprehension and anger of the inhabitants.
“When you teach in a class, it is your job to protect the students, and they have done much more than what was expected of them,” says Ms. Hernandez about the two deceased teachers.
– “Too many times” –
A few meters away, Rosie Buantel, has had enough of the repeated shootings in the United States. “I am sad and angry at our government which is not doing enough to limit access to weapons”, explains this fifty-year-old woman after mass.
“We have been through this too many times, and nothing is done. They are still debating,” she asserts.
Eddie, a resident of Uvalde who refuses to give his last name, is also outraged.
“I came to pay tribute (to the victims) and also to push for a change in the law, so that the weapons do not fall into the hands of children,” he said while laying a wreath near the Robb school, still surrounded by the police.
The traumatized inhabitants have also gathered in a municipal center where they can receive psychological help.
On Tuesday, the families and friends of the victims of the attack had to wait hours to hear from their loved ones.
Iveth Pacheco, volunteer psychologist, traveled 120 km from San Antonio to support the residents of Uvalde.
“It’s one of those situations where you just have to be there,” she explains. “You have to be prepared for any question a child may have and the same goes for adults.”