Two teachers who were shot and killed as a teen gunman opened fire in a Texas elementary school have been praised for trying to save students’ lives by giving up their own.
Eva Mireles, 44, her fourth grade co-teacher Irma Garcia, 46, and 19 children died after Salvador Ramos, 18, stormed Robb Elementary School with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle in Uvalde on Tuesday.
What began as a day of celebration, with students participating in “Awards Day”, quickly turned into chaos and bloodshed after Ramos barricaded himself in the teachers’ classroom and began firing indiscriminately, law enforcement officials say.
Ms Garcia’s nephew has since revealed that his aunt “sacrificed herself protecting the kids”, dying a hero.
“She passed away with children in her arms trying to protect them. Those weren’t just her students, they were her kids as well,” John Martinez wrote on Twitter.
“She was teacher of the year and was loved by so many. She’s gone but the world will never forget her name”.
Ms Garcia, a mum of four who had taught at Robb Elementary school for 23 years, was nominated as teacher of the year by the Uvalde school district in 2019, according to local reports.
Daughter's heartbreaking post: 'I don't know what to do'
Ms Mireles, whose husband is an officer with the school district’s police force, also used the last moments of her life to try and save the students, her daughter has revealed in a heartbreaking Facebook post.
“Thank you for being the best mom anyone could ask for. I’m so happy that people know your name and that beautiful face of yours and they know what a hero looks like,” Adalynn Ruiz wrote.
“I don’t know how to do this life without you, but I will take care of dad.
“I will take care of our dogs and I will forever say your name so you are always remembered, Eva Mireles, 4th grade teacher at Robb Elementary who selflessly jumped in front of her students to save their lives.
“My heart will forever be broken. My best friend, my twin was taken from me.”
Ms Ruiz described her mum as an avid CrossFit fan who enjoyed singing karaoke with her daughter.
“I want to fight with you for the stupidest things and then laugh with you after. I want everything back,” Ms Ruiz said.
“I miss you more than words can explain. My beautiful mom, thank you for the funniest memories. Thank you for the best times of my life.”
Gunman killed 19 children in one classroom
Law enforcement officials have revealed that all of the 19 children killed were in the same classroom.
The killer “barricaded himself by locking the door and just started shooting children and teachers that were inside that classroom,” Lt Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety told CNN.
“It just shows you the complete evil of the shooter.”
Police and others responding to the attack went around breaking windows at the school to enable students and teachers to escape. Officers eventually broke into the classroom and killed Ramos in one last exchange of gunfire, authorities said.
Victim, 10, didn't want to go to school
The heartbroken parents of the students killed have begun to tearfully identify their children, with one mum revealing that her daughter didn’t want to go to school on Tuesday.
Veronica Luevanos, whose 10-year-old daughter, Jailah Nicole Silguero, was among the victims, told Univision that her daughter did not want to go to class and seemed to sense something bad was going to happen. Jailah’s cousin also died in the shooting.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.