The victims fatally shot at a Texas elementary school Tuesday include 19 children — at least three of whom were fourth graders — and two teachers trying to protect them, relatives told news outlets.
The students and educators were days from the end of the school year when they were fatally shot Tuesday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, west of San Antonio.
Eva Mireles, who taught fourth grade, had been an educator for 17 years, according to her profile at Robb Elementary.
Mireles was “trying to protect her students” from the gunman, a relative told The New York Times.
Lydia Martinez Delgado, Mireles’ aunt, said her niece was an avid hiker who took pride in teaching students of Latino heritage, The Times reported.
Martinez Delgado told KSAT-TV of San Antonio that she was “furious” over the shooting and others, saying: “These children are innocent. Rifles should not be easily available to all. This is my hometown a small community of less than 20,000. I never imagined this would happen to especially to loved ones.”
Mireles’ co-teacher, Irma Garcia, was killed, according to her son, Christian Garcia.
Irma Garcia taught at the school for 23 years, according to her school profile. She had four children and loved barbecuing with her husband and listening to music.
Her son said a friend in law enforcement who was at the scene saw Garcia shielding her students.
Three fourth graders were also among the dead, relatives confirmed to news outlets.
Uziyah Garcia was identified by his aunt, Nikki Cross, NBC Dallas-Fort Worth reported.
Xavier Lopez, 10, had been at an awards ceremony with his mother hours before the shooting, KSAT reported.
The father of 9-year-old Amerie Jo Garza identified her to NBC News as one of the victims. She was about to finish fourth grade, according to KSAT.
The 16 other children who were killed were not immediately identified.
“My heart was broken today,” Hal Harrell, the superintendent of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School, told reporters. “We’re a small community. And we’ll need your prayers to get us through this.”
The gunman is believed to have shot his grandmother before driving to the school and “shooting every single person that was in front of him,” said Lt. Chris Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The grandmother was hospitalized in critical condition, he said.
More than a dozen other people, including children and law enforcement officers, were also injured.
Janelle Griffith, Kurt Chirbas and Irene Byon contributed.