Among theat Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday were two young cousins. Jackie Cazares and Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez were with a group of five girls, Cazares’ father told the Associated Press, when the shooting occurred.
“They are all gone now,” Jacinto Cazares told AP, saying the two young girls were second-cousins.
The girls’ family members have posted about their deaths on social media. Their aunt, Letty Hernandez, wrote that the two young girls “were not only cousins, but best friends as well.”
“Our hearts are shattered beyond repair. I want to wake up from this f***ing nightmare. You were taken from us too soon,” she wrote. “I won’t ever get a call asking if you could come spend the night.”
Another aunt, Polly Flores, wrote, “at least you are together.”
“Our hearts are broken in a million pieces.”
The children were among the 21 people killed after an 18-year-old gunman opened fire inside the school on Tuesday. Officials say that the gunman, after shooting his grandmother in the face and crashing his car near the school, evaded a district police officer and ended up barricading himself in a classroom. It was then that he started shooting.
It was the last week of the school year and students had been dressed up in their fanciest shoes for the theme ofas part of celebrations for the upcoming summer vacation.
Jacinto Cazares wrote on Facebook on Wednesday that his “baby girl has been taken away from my family.”
“Taken out of arms and lives, in this freaking cowardly way, so young, so innocent, full of life and love. It hurts us to our souls.”
He later told reporters that his family found out she had been among the victims while he was waiting for information at the school. His niece had been able to get to the hospital and saw Jackie come out of the ambulance.
“I booked it. I wanted to be there as soon as I could,” he said. “She was there. They couldn’t confirm that it was her but my niece saw firsthand when they pulled her out.”
He went on to describe his daughter as someone who “was full of life and love.” She had just recently had her first baptism and first communion.
“She touched a lot of people,” he said. “Through COVID, through the death of a family member a year ago, she brought us together and it was something beautiful. And now, we’re being brought together but it’s in tragedy.”
He said that his daughter was a “little firecracker” who would “do anything for anybody.”
“It comforts me a little bit to think she would be the one to help her friends in need,” he said.