© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Uvalde community unites in grief one year after mass shooting tore it apart

Tamir Ben Kalifa sings an original song about for Jackie Cazares, age 9, called "Jackie's Rock."
Jia Chen
Texas Public Radio
Tamir Ben Kalifa sings an original song for Jackie Cazares, aged 9.

The Uvalde community came together Wednesday night to mark one year since the shooting at Robb Elementary School.

The night started with a prayer vigil at the Uvalde County Fairplex. Afterwards, victims’ families invited the public to a candle lighting ceremony and butterfly release in honor of the 19 children and two teachers killed in the attack.

The evening felt meaningful for Uvalde resident Michael Cortes.

“I think it was needed for our town," he said. “It's been a year, but it still feels like the day of."

The city of about 15,000 was ripped apart by the horrific shooting and the controversy over law enforcement's botched response that followed.

"At least we could all come together for a minute and remember them and let them know we're still thinking about them," Cortes said. "It wasn't something small. It was 21 lives that were taken. Anything we could do to keep them alive and let them know we're still thinking about them."

Christina Delgado came to Uvalde from Santa Fe, Texas — a community that experienced its own school shooting five years ago. She's with an organization called Community Justice, which works to help survivors of shootings turn their pain into activism.

"This is a night of acceptance. This is the first day that it truly becomes a reality," she said. "This is the beginning process for these families to move forward, to truly live in this reality that has been forced upon them."

The victims’ families say they plan to continue fighting for answers and changes to the state’s gun laws. But on this night, the focus was on coming together as a community to grieve — and heal — together.

TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.

Jia Chen is a freelance journalist and photographer for Texas Public Radio. She began with TPR working as the Bexar County selected Summer Arts Intern in 2021. Her coverage includes arts & culture, technology, politics, and more. She holds a BA in Communication from University of Texas at San Antonio and has lived in San Antonio for over 20 years.