Uvalde residents rally following school shooting | Gun Violence News


Uvalde, Texas, United States – Longtime Uvalde resident Shelly Pivoda, 59, was on the phone with a job seeker Tuesday morning at the local Walmart where she works when, out of the corner of her eye, she saw an employee running towards her.

“There’s a shooting on Robb [Elementary School]“, shouted the woman.

Minutes earlier, an 18-year-old man wielding an AR-15 rifle began a rampage that killed 19 children and two teachers – the deadliest school shooting in the United States since 20 young children and six adults were killed. were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Massachusetts in 2012.

“We had parents and grandparents of kids in the store,” Pivoda said. “They started running out.

“We immediately told the staff to do what they had to do and go where they had to go,” she said. “There were a lot of tears.

Pivoda, a 37-year-old Walmart employee whose father worked for the US Border Patrol, received a call from a law enforcement friend minutes later. “Could you get Robb some water?” asked the friend.

Another Walmart employee helped Pivoda load his 2016 Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck with crates of water. She was at school in 10 minutes.

Shelly Pivoda made dozens of phone calls to check on Walmart employees on the day of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas [John Savage/Al Jazeera]

When she returned to the store, she began calling employees to check on them and ask if there was anything she could do – by 10 p.m., she and a colleague had contacted over 100 people.

“The appreciation they showed for the calls was heartbreaking,” Pivoda said. “What do you say to someone who has lost a loved one? There’s nothing you can say to make it better.

On Wednesday, Pivoda reported to work at 6 a.m. “I had to be there for the associates,” she said. “We are always there for them. This is what we do in Uvalde.

“We wanted to help families”

Omar Rodriguez, 24, launched a car detailing business on Main Street two months ago – a five-lane thoroughfare and business center that bisects the community of around 16,000 mostly residents latinos.

Rodriguez’s business is tied to a used car dealership that sits across the street from a Sears Hometown appliance store and Billy Bob’s Hamburgers. “It’s going well,” Rodriguez said. “We have been very busy and I have hired friends.”

One of those employees, a man with a fourth-grade child at Robb Elementary, called Rodriguez Tuesday morning while depositing checks at the bank.

“My son is at Robb,” Rodriguez’s friend said.

“Let’s go,” Rodriguez said, “I’ll pick you up right away.”

They arrived at school just before noon.

Omar Rodriguez washes a car at Uvalde's fundraiser
Omar Rodriguez washes a car during a May 26 fundraiser for families of school shooting victims in Uvalde, Texas [John Savage/Al Jazeera]

“Officers were saying there was an active shooter,” Rodriguez said. “We saw two children on the sidewalk with bullet holes.”

My friend started shouting, “Where is my child, where is my child?” Rodriguez called back. “His child was safe, but he didn’t find him until Tuesday night at the civic center.”

The civic center in downtown Uvalde served as a gathering point for families and children after the shooting. The scene outside the center was chaotic on Tuesday as dozens of residents anxiously awaited news of loved ones.

“We are a community. We’re all close,” Rodriguez said. “Everyone knew someone at school.”

Rodriguez sat in his Dodge pickup truck Tuesday night trying to process the tragedy. “I stayed there for a few hours, crying and thinking about what I could do to help the families,” he said.

“We wash cars and cook all the time, so I came up with the fundraising idea – washing cars and selling burgers and turkey legs,” he said. “We will distribute the money equally among the 21 families who have lost loved ones.”

On Wednesday, Rodriguez went to Uvalde Meat Market & Processing and bought about 250 pounds (113 kg) of hamburger meat and 250 turkey legs. “We filled a large hot tub and tub with meat and 15 bags of ice,” Rodriguez said.

Residents of Uvalde hold a fundraiser with a large sign for a car wash
Volunteers plan a fundraiser to help families of school shooting victims in Uvalde, Texas [John Savage/Al Jazeera]

Thursday morning, between two car washes with two of his employees, Rodriguez prepared a large grill to cook everything.

When asked what he hoped to accomplish, he cried.

His mother, Guadalupe Salazar, 43, patted her son on the arm. “We wanted to help families be able to stay home and comfort their [other] kids,” Salazar said.

Rodriguez regained his composure as his mother spoke.

“It won’t bring back any kids,” he said, “but we just wanted to give back in some way.”


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