The father of one of the 19 children gunned down in the Texas primary school shooting has detailed the horrific moment he learned his daughter was dead.
Angel Garza, a medic aide, rushed to Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on Tuesday just moments after gunman Salvador Ramos, 18, barricaded himself in a classroom and opened fire indiscriminately, killing the fourth grade students and two teachers.
The dad said when he arrived the victims were starting to be removed from the building. He immediately began helping a little girl “who was just covered in blood head-to-toe”.
“I thought she was injured. I asked her what was wrong and she said she was ok. She was crying hysterically saying that they shot her best friend, that they killed her best friend,” Mr Garza told CNN’s Anderson Cooper from the scene on Wednesday.
He said the girl told him her best friend had been trying to call the police for help when she was killed.
“I asked the little girl the name and she said Amerie,” the dad recalled in-between sobs as he held a photo of his daughter, Amerie Jo Garza.
Mr Garza told Mr Cooper he “just wants to know what she did to be a victim”, describing the 10-year-old who celebrated her birthday two weeks ago as “the sweetest little girl who did nothing wrong”.
“How do you look at this girl and shoot her, she was my baby,” he said while looking at the image of Amerie.
Mr Garza said his daughter had been so excited to finally receive a mobile phone for her birthday on May 10.
She used the same phone to try and call 911 for help when Ramos stormed into her classroom.
“So the gunman went in and he told the children ‘You’re going to die.’ And she had her phone and she called 911. And instead of grabbing it and breaking it or taking it from her, he shot her,” the 10-year-old’s grandmother Berlinda Irene Arreola told The Daily Beast.
“She was sitting right next to her best friend. Her best friend was covered in her blood.”
Ms Arreola said her granddaughter had died immediately.
Victim’s mum posts last photo taken with daughter
Amerie’s mum Kimberley Garcia has paid tribute to her “sweet baby girl”, posting a photo of the pair together. The pictured was taken just hours before the 10-year-old was killed.
The fourth grade student can be seen posing with her A&B Honor Roll certificate during a school celebration as her mum givers her a hug.
“You did not deserve this my sweet baby girl,” Ms Garcia wrote on Facebook.
“Mommy loves you, mommy can’t sleep without you. Mommy needs you. Amerie I can’t do this life without you.
“How am I supposed to live life without you? I will never understand. I love you and I’ll never be the same, ever again.”
Ms Garcia later took to social media again to thank people from all over the world who had sent her their condolences, saying she was grateful for each and every message.
“I appreciate everything. My heart is completely shattered,” she said.
A family friend has created a GoFundMe to help Amerie’s devastated parents pay for her funeral.
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