“When you go in, you know your baby is deceased,” he recalled as he sat in his living room Wednesday, surrounded by family and friends.
When Lugo heard officials call his daughter and son-in-law’s names, he knew his granddaughter was gone. He had last seen Ellie on Sunday. She spent weekends with her grandparents, reminding them to take their pills, helping to mow the lawn, make tostadas and chalupas and babysit her younger sisters. She would even ask to help her grandfather with his excavating work.
“When you’re older,” he would say.
Her older sister Janel Garcia, 11, was her constant companion, flaquita to her gordita. By Wednesday, Janel knew Ellie was dead, but couldn’t really understand, Lugo said.
“She wants her back. They’re always together,” he said.
Lugo raised his children in Uvalde and never felt unsafe. “I’ve seen all the stuff happen in other states, hoping it doesn’t happen here. Now it has,” he said.
His wife, Nelda Lugo, 63, worked as a cook at another Uvalde elementary school that was also placed on lockdown after the shooting. She knew both of the teachers who were killed. Sitting in her kitchen Wednesday surrounded by loved ones, she said the deaths still didn’t seem real.
“This morning I got up and thought, ‘What a dream I had,’” she said.
She had been stockpiling gifts for Ellie’s birthday June 4: leggings and Legos. Ellie’s father, a car salesman and DJ, planned to handle the music — lots of cumbias, which Ellie liked to dance to at her grandparents’ house, filming TikTok videos, she said.
Lugo said she struggled to explain the shooting to Ellie’s 5-year-old sister, who saw her parents on television late Tuesday.
“Why are they at the civic center?” she asked.
“They’re looking for Ellie,” Lugo said.
“Why?” the girl asked.
“They lost her at the school,” Lugo said.
“Because she died,” Lugo said.
Then she put the girl to bed. By morning, Lugo said her granddaughter had stopped asking questions. But her daughter awoke crying.
“It’s very, very sad,” she said.
Eva Mireles, 44
One of the two adult victims in Uvalde was Eva Mireles, a fourth-grade teacher who had worked for the school district for about 17 years. Her husband, Ruben Ruiz, is a police officer in the district. He was one of several officers who responded to the shooting and were apparently shot at by the shooter, but he was not injured.
Mireles’ aunt, Lydia Martinez Delgado, said in a message to The Times that she was furious to lose her niece in such a “tragic” and “senseless” way. The U.S., she said, needed to act on gun laws and expand background checks.
“It’s so easy for young, mental kids to get guns and randomly shoot innocent victims,” she said. “My niece, Eva, lost her life protecting her students. It shouldn’t have to be like this: teachers, parents and students afraid to go to school or send their kids to school.”
In a post on Twitter, Mireles’ daughter described her mother as “the half that makes me whole.”
“You are so known by many now and I’m so happy that people know your name and that beautiful face of yours and they know what a hero looks like,” she wrote, adding: “My heart will forever be broken.”
“My tia did not make it,” John Martinez wrote on Twitter about his aunt, Irma Garcia, a fourth-grade teacher at Robb Elementary. “She sacrificed herself protecting the kids in her classroom ... she died a HERO. she was loved by many and will truly be missed.”
Garcia had been a teacher at Robb Elementary for 23 years. According to her school profile, she loved to “BBQ with (her) husband, listen to music, and take country cruises to Concan.”
She had been married for 24 years and was the mother of four children, the profile says.
She was “sweet, kind, loving,” Steven Martinez wrote in a GoFundMe page organized for her family. “Fun with the greatest personality.”
Jackie Cazares, 10
Fourth-grader Jackie Cazares, 10, was among those killed along with her cousin Annabell Rodriguez, according to San Antonio TV station KSAT.
Jailah Nicole Silguero, 10
Ten-year-old Jailah Nicole Silguero was killed in the shooting, her mother, Veronica Luevanos, told Univision through tears.
Luevanos said Jailah loved to dance and film videos on TikTok.
“I took her to school, but she didn’t want to go. She told her father, ‘Can I stay home?’” Luevanos said, adding that Jailah didn’t often ask to stay home. “I think she knew something would happen.”
Jailah’s cousin, 10-year-old Jayce Luevanos, was also killed in the shooting, according to Luevanos. She said her brother, Jacye’s father, was taking his death hard.
Jayce Luevanos, 10
Jayce Luevanos, 10, died in the shooting along with his cousin, Jailah Nicole Silguero, according to Jailah’s mother.
In a Facebook post, their uncle Unberto Gonzalez shared photos of both children.
“My babies going to miss them like crazy!!!,” Gonzalez wrote. “We luv y’all so much!!! I’m just lost right now!!! Fly high my beautiful Angels!!”
Jose Flores, 10
Christopher Salazar confirmed to the Washington Post that his 10-year-old nephew, Jose Flores, was killed in the shooting.
“I love you and I miss you,” Salazar wrote in a post on Facebook alongside photos of the boy.
In one photo, Jose can be seen grinning after catching a fish. In another, he is proudly displaying his honor roll certificate under a “Robb ’22" banner.
Layla Salazar, 10
Layla Salazar’s father told the Associated Press that the 10-year-old had won six races at the school’s field day.
“She was just a whole lot of fun,” Vincent Salazar said, adding that his daughter liked dancing to TikTok videos and singing along with him to the Guns N’ Roses song “Sweet Child O’ Mine” every morning on the way to school.
Makenna Lee Elrod, 10
On Tuesday, Brandon Elrod told ABC News that he was still searching for his 10-year-old daughter, Makenna.
“Pretty sad,” he said, choking back tears. “Really sad. I don’t know what this world is coming to.”
Later, a family friend said on Facebook that Makenna had been killed.
“My heart is shattered as my daughter Chloe loved her so much!!” Pilar Newberry wrote, adding: “Just a few weeks ago she got a friendship bracelet from her at the ballpark and she wears it everyday!”
“It is with a heavy heart I come on here on behalf of my cousin Ana who lost her sweet baby girl in yesterday’s senseless shooting,” Raquel Silva wrote on Facebook about one of the victims, Maite Rodriguez. “Our hearts are shattered.”
Another family member shared a photo of Maite with her honor roll certificate in front of a school banner.
Her age could not immediately be confirmed.
Miranda Mathis, 11
Eleven-year-old Miranda Mathis’ family was searching for her after the shooting, according to her cousin, Deanna Miller.
“Please lord hear our prayers and please let these babies just be misplaced and harm free,” Miller wrote in a post on Facebook on Tuesday afternoon.
On Wednesday morning, Miller shared a photo of Miranda with angel wings and a halo.
“My sweet baby cousin we loved u dearly,” she wrote.
Nevaeh Bravo’s cousin posted on social media after the shooting to ask for the public’s help locating the girl. Around 9 p.m., she wrote on Twitter: “Unfortunately my beautiful Nevaeh was one of the many victims from todays tragedy.”
“Thank you for the support and help,” she wrote. “Rest in peace my sweet girl, you didn’t deserve this.”
Nevaeh’s age could not immediately be confirmed.
Rojelio Torres, 10
“Our entire family waited almost 12 hours since the shooting to find out Rojelio Torres, my 10-year-old nephew, was killed in this tragedy,” Torres’ aunt, Precious Perez, told KSAT. “We are devastated and heartbroken. Rojer was a very intelligent, hard-working and helpful person. He will be missed and never forgotten.”
Tess Marie Mata
Tess Marie Mata was among the students killed, according to a Facebook post by her sister, Faith Mata.
“I honestly have no words just sadness, confusion, and anger,” she wrote. “I’m sad because we will never get to tag team on mom and dad again and tell each other how much we mean to each other, I’m confused because how can something like this happen to my sweet, caring, and beautiful sister, and I’m angry because a coward took you from us.”
A series of pictures accompanying the post showed Tess smiling in a baby photo, snoozing in bed, snuggling with a cat, doing the splits, flashing a peace sign and posing in front of a large heart mural.
“Sissy I miss you so much, I just want to hold you and tell you how pretty you are, I want to take you outside and practice softball, I want to go on one last family vacation, I want to hear your contagious laugh, and I want you to hear me tell you how much I love you,” her sister wrote.
Tess’ age could not immediately be confirmed.
Uziyah Garcia, 8
“I’m grieving heavily,” said Manny Renfro, whose 8-year-old grandson, Uziyah Garcia, was among the Robb Elementary students killed.
Renfro told The Times that Uziyah and his two sisters had lived with him and his grandmother for more than five years and he “never had an ounce of trouble” out of him.
“He was the type of kid that ... could get interested in anything in five minutes. Just the perfect kid, as far as I’m concerned,” Renfro said, adding that Uziyah liked football, baseball and video games.
“We had a tight relationship, me and my grandson, and I don’t have him anymore,” he said, his voice breaking with emotion. “I lost my grandson at the hands of a very evil person.”
Xavier Lopez, 10
Felicha Martinez told the Washington Post that her 10-year-old son, Xavier Lopez, was killed.
“He was funny, never serious and his smile,” she said. “That smile I will never forget. It would always cheer anyone up.”
She watched him receive an honor roll certificate just hours before he was killed.
(Hennessy-Fiske reported from Uvalde, Jarvie from Atlanta, and Smith and Reyes-Velarde from Los Angeles.)©2022 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.