A distraught Texas grandmother of a girl killed in the massacre in Uvalde pleaded Thursday for urgent action by US authorities to prevent future school shootings, as the country plunges again into the roiling debate over guns.
Ten-year-old Amerie Garza — a fourth-grader who loved her classes, drawing, and playing with clay — was one of 19 children murdered by a teen gunman at Robb Elementary School in an act of evil that has forever changed this small Texas town.
“My granddaughter was in there. She was an innocent little girl, loving school and looking forward to summer,” Dora Mendoza told reporters after paying respects at a makeshift memorial outside the school.
But the 63-year-old, who lived with Amerie and saw her at an end-of-year ceremony Tuesday just hours before she was killed, quickly made clear she wanted US officials such as President Joe Biden and Texas Governor Greg Abbott not to shy away from working together on reforms.
Biden, who is due to visit Uvalde on Sunday, and Abbott are polar opposites regarding restrictions on gun sales. Like many in the Democrat versus Republican divide, the two also differ on the path to take to curb the nation’s surging gun violence.
“They shouldn’t just wait for… tragedy to start,” she said.
“They need to do something about it. They need to not forget us, the babies… Don’t forget them, please,” Mendoza, speaking in a mix of English and Spanish, pleaded through her tears.
“Do something about it, I beg you. I beg you!” she wailed. “All the cries and all these little innocent babies… we don’t know what they went through.”
Amerie’s “abuela” was among several Uvalde residents who came to pray or leave flowers at the school memorial, where 21 small white wooden crosses have been erected bearing names of the 19 children and two teachers who were killed.
Among the mourners was Yaritza Rangel, 23, who brought her four children to lay flowers.