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Uvalde is in mourning after 19 children and 2 teachers are killed in mass shooting


We'll begin this hour with the massacre in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 21 people yesterday at an elementary school. Authorities say the shooter barricaded himself inside a single classroom and, quote, "began shooting anyone that was in his way." He killed 19 children and two teachers. The shooting at Robb Elementary School is the deadliest at a grade school since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary almost 10 years ago. It's been less than two weeks since another mass shooting in Buffalo that killed 10. Joining us now is the city manager of Uvalde, Vince DiPiazza.

Good morning, and thank you for joining us on such a difficult day.

VINCE DIPIAZZA: Thank you for giving me the opportunity.

FADEL: You know, if we could just start - if you could just describe your city right now this morning, what's happening there.

DIPIAZZA: Well, the community is reeling. It's - we're a small community - 16,000 people, roughly. And families are connected. They know each other. You know, the victim list is going to reach into all segments of the population here...

FADEL: Yeah.

DIPIAZZA: ...In one form or another.

FADEL: I want to talk about the victims. I mean, what do we know about each individual who was killed?

DIPIAZZA: We're talking about a bunch of fourth-graders, primarily, and a couple of teachers. And I, frankly, have been quite busy this morning with lots of other stuff. And I'm only just now beginning to learn the identities of the victims.

FADEL: Yeah.

DIPIAZZA: And it just - it boggles your mind.

FADEL: Yeah. What do we know about what happened yesterday inside the school and how law enforcement ultimately stopped it?

DIPIAZZA: OK. So I think most of that is kind of out and about. But this 18-year-old local resident had a semiautomatic weapon, shot a grandmother and then headed over to the school and managed to enter the school. And I think, as you said earlier in your part, barricaded himself in a classroom and just shot whatever was in his way.

FADEL: Yeah.

DIPIAZZA: Law enforcement eventually, you know, got in there and took him out. But that whole process - I mean, from beginning to end, we're talking probably about an hour and a half, maybe less. My timeline isn't - is not clear in my head. But it happened very, very quickly.

FADEL: And in the days ahead as city manager, what will you be doing in Uvalde to get your city through this?

DIPIAZZA: Well, the focus yesterday and today has been on the victims and their families.

FADEL: Yeah.

DIPIAZZA: There's a community civic center that is kind of the focal point for that activity. Counseling is available there - school staff, even members of the public. So we're going to try to make that available for everybody. People are going to want to talk about this and get out of their system all the emotions that they're facing. The other thing is, as you might expect, we've received offers for assistance from all over the country, all over the state. We - you know, we're grateful for that. And we are going to try to take advantage of it as much as we can. Managing that is going to be a task for us, too, in the days to come.

FADEL: Yeah. What does your city need?

DIPIAZZA: I don't know what I could say at this point - prayers, support. We need that. You know, we're taking monetary donations. I think all those things are going to be fairly easy for us to get access to, as far as the physical and monetary resources to deal with it. From here on out, I mean, this is - excuse me - this is a changed community, I believe.

FADEL: I'm so sorry.

DIPIAZZA: Unfortunately, we're now a member of a club which is not as exclusive as you might think.

FADEL: Right.

DIPIAZZA: I've received contacts from colleagues and friends all over the country who have been in communities that have gone through this. So we are far from the only ones that have had to deal with this in recent years.

FADEL: And what have they been telling you?

DIPIAZZA: Right now it's mostly just messages of support and, you know, talk to us if you need it. You're going to have - you know, the next couple weeks are going to be rough. And then it's a long slog after that, too. So I don't know how you get over anything like this.

FADEL: Do you have...

DIPIAZZA: And I just - I'm sorry. Go ahead.

FADEL: No, go ahead. I'm sorry. I cut you off.

DIPIAZZA: I was just going to say, I just feel for the families and all those who are connected with them.

FADEL: From Uvalde, do you have anything that you want to say to state and national leaders right now about how to prevent this from happening again?

DIPIAZZA: I probably do, but I don't know that this would be the time for me to say that. I think that'll come out at a later time. Right now I think we just need to focus on the task at hand, and that's take care of families and our citizens.

FADEL: Thank you so much for joining us today. And I'm so sorry for all that you're dealing with.

DIPIAZZA: Thank you.

FADEL: Vince DiPiazza is the city manager of Uvalde, Texas, the scene of yesterday's deadly shooting. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.