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On the anniversary of the Uvalde shooting, a family feels betrayed


May 21, 2023

Jacklyn was generous, and she was a compassionate and emotional person, Cazares said. Every time the family went to San Antonio, she would find a homeless person and tell the mom or dad that they needed to help her person. She once asked her brother for money so she could open a savings account for her sister, Jazmin, to go to college, she said.

“She had a heart of gold, just full of love and everyone who came across her or crossed her path just felt it,” he said. «We don’t want her death to be in vain.»

Initially, authorities said a school police officer had confronted the gunman. They gave conflicting accounts of how the police response, made up of some 400 officers, played out.

Begging, pressing and hoping

The parents have been fighting for a full report, but the promised city investigation has not been carried out and much information is suppressed in the district attorney’s own investigation.

As some facts emerged, they often contradicted the «official» versions of what happened. Jesse Rizo, Jacklyn’s uncle, said he feels the trickle down is the spirits of murdered children answering questions from their parents and loved ones.

Rizo, who has joined Cazares in his activism for accountability and reform, said the year since the massacre has been a series of disappointments.

“All these things are coming down the pipeline and you’re like, dammit, that’s a letdown, that’s a letdown, that’s a letdown. And then you start to wonder if you have it wrong,” she said. «What am I doing? Why am I not good enough to convince these people that their actions are wrong? For a moment, you start to believe that.»

But Rizo said that they somehow re-energize themselves to keep fighting, because they’re trying to save someone else’s life, avoid someone else’s pain. «That’s the reason to be hopeful,» he said. «Hope and faith is the only thing we have left.»

Jesse Rizo, Jacklyn’s uncle, wonders what he would tell his niece Jacklyn about what happened «when we meet again in heaven.» Jordan Vonderhaar for NBC News

The Uvalde shooting was one of the deadliest in history since 20 children and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. It was preceded in 2018 by a shooting at Santa Fe High School. , Texas, in which eight students and two teachers were shot to death. It was followed by this month’s mass shooting at a mall in Allen, Texas, in which the shooter killed eight people.

And yet, the families of the children and teachers from Uvalde and some relatives of the victims from Santa Fe had to plead with their elected legislators to hold a hearing on a bill that would change the age for purchasing assault weapons from 18. to 24 years.

They had to pressure those officials to vote the bill out of committee and had to watch time run out to schedule the bill for a vote. They had to watch as their elected officials rejected attempts to resurrect the bill as an amendment to other legislation.

Texas Senator Roland Gutierrez, whose district includes Uvalde, has been an advocate for families by introducing and defending legislation to change gun laws and make other changes.

“It is a shame that the Legislature lacks the political courage to stop the killing of our children,” he said in a statement last Thursday after another rejection of an amendment to a law that would raise the age to purchase assault weapons.

The riddle remains unsolved

Texas Democratic Rep. Joe Moody was vice chair of the Texas House committee that investigated the response to the Uvalde shooting. His city of El Paso was the scene of a mass shooting in 2019 that killed 23 people and wounded 22.

He visited Robb Elementary for the investigation, he said at the April legislative hearing, where families learned the shooter had written «LOL» in his victims’ blood on a blackboard.

Art that the children had made before the attack hung in the hallways.

The art was interrupted by «holes the size of my fist being punched through the walls,» Moody said. «There were bullet holes in the TV that the children were watching that day and overturned desks as makeshift shields… It was a mass grave for the tiny bodies of children who died screaming while holding each other.»

“For those parents and families, the world ended that day,” he said. «The way time falls on them is a memory of when things made sense.»