It's been 1 year since the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, killed 21 people
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
You probably have heard by now that today marks one year since that horrifying shooting in the town of Uvalde, Texas, where 19 fourth graders and two teachers were killed in their elementary school classroom. It was the beginning of 12 months of agony for their families and everyone around them. NPR's Adrian Florido is in Uvalde, and he's with us now. Adrian, good morning. I'm so glad you're there to keep us connected to this story and these families.
ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: Thank you, Michel. Good morning.
MARTIN: So I understand that members of the community called this day the one-year mark, not the anniversary. Why is that?
FLORIDO: Well, because they see anniversaries as something that you celebrate. But today is such a painful day that some of the victims' families have actually left town here. They just couldn't bear to be in town.
MARTIN: What do the families tell you that the last year has been like?
FLORIDO: It's been an awful, awful search for answers, for accountability and for healing. Nothing surpasses the pain of losing a child or a family member as brutally as these families did on that day a year ago. But what made it worse, Michel, as you remember, was the failed police response. Police waited more than an hour to enter the classroom and kill the shooter. And during that time, some of the victims slowly bled to death. So for the last year, many of these families have been demanding answers about what happened on that day.
MARTIN: What are some of the questions that still have not been fully answered, despite all these investigations that have taken place?
FLORIDO: Well, how did it all go so wrong? Who among the police officers on the scene that day was to blame for that bungled response? And there's one question that a lot of the families here want answered more than any of them. Listen to Veronica Mata. She is the mother of 10-year-old Tess Marie Mata.
VERONICA MATA: I want to know if there was some chance that she could have survived. I feel like if we know, then those what-if questions won't be there anymore.
FLORIDO: A lot of parents don't know if their child was one of the ones who died right away or if they held on waiting for help. And not knowing that is really haunting for them. And Mata told me that if she can't get closer to an answer to that question, that she doubts that she'll make it very far on the path to healing.
MARTIN: So, Adrian, is it even possible for some of these families to find an answer to that question?
FLORIDO: A lot of the families know that they might not ever know the answer to that question. But they want to see what investigators turn up, because as you said, there are still several investigations that are ongoing at the local, state and federal level. And because they're active investigations, a lot of information has not been made public even a year later, even to the families. So many families are pinning their hopes for closure on the findings of these investigations whenever they come, which could still be months or longer away. Other families are skeptical they'll get much.
MARTIN: So how else have the families been coping? Because I know that you've been keeping in touch with them over the course of the year.
FLORIDO: Yeah, many of them have thrown themselves into projects to honor their children's memories. Others have thrown themselves into activism, traveling the state and the country to lobby for gun control. But it's also been a really frustrating process for families because they have, in many cases, struggled to gain support for their cause, even from neighbors here. Over the weekend, Kimberly Rubio, whose daughter was killed - she spoke at an event here.
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KIMBERLY RUBIO: There's just a part of the community that's just ready to move on, like this whole situation was inconvenient for them, and they're ready to put it behind them and move on so that Uvalde isn't just remembered for this tragedy. But that's not what we want. We don't want Uvalde to just be remembered for this tragedy. We just want to honor our children and those two teachers. They should always be remembered. They always have a place. This is their community.
FLORIDO: It's just a hint, Michel, of the many divisions that have emerged here since the shooting. But Kimberly Rubio - she is going to be one of the parents leading a candlelight vigil and march today in honor of her daughter Lexi and all the other victims. It's going to happen at the main public park here in town. And people are driving in from across Texas to attend.
MARTIN: That is NPR's Adrian Florido. He's in Uvalde, Texas. Adrian, thank you so much.
FLORIDO: Thanks, Michel.
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