Uvalde school shooting survivors, families still seek answers 1 year later
(CBS NEWS) — For Andrea Herrera, surviving last year’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, is an everyday struggle. Not only was she there the day 19 children and two teachers were killed, but her 10-year-old stepbrother, Jose Flores, also lost his life in the adjacent classroom.
Herrera still grapples with the haunting memories.
“It just goes in my mind in loops, like the same thing over and over again,” Herrera said.
She thought she would be able to see Flores and give him a hug after the attack, but instead, she wept when she heard he did not survive the shooting.
The whereabouts of Flores that day continue to trouble her, and she wonders how scared he must have been in the classroom. Her mental health and grades have been deteriorating since the shooting, according to her mother, Cynthia.
The Herreras have contemplated leaving, but the memory of Jose keeps them tethered to Uvalde.
Tensions in the town have also increased as the families of the victims have been seeking greater accountability for the actions on that day. Despite the district’s investment of millions of dollars to bolster security measures across all public school campuses, including the installation of fencing and 600 security cameras, some families argue that not enough progress has been made.
Brett Cross lost his 10-year-old Uziyah Garcia, and refuses to give up his fight for answers and change. He has spearheaded efforts at the local, state and federal levels, demanding accountability for the failures that occurred that day.
“If I stop, I’m useless,” Cross said. “Uvalde doesn’t want to be known as Uvalde anymore, you know they don’t want it to be, ‘Oh, we’re known for Robb Elementary.’ But the fact is, is that you are, because our school failed. Because our cops failed. Because our government failed. And you want me to stop? I’ve lost the kid. I ain’t got anything else to lose.”
One of the most glaring failures was the delayed response by law enforcement. It took 376 officers from over 20 agencies a staggering 77 minutes to breach the classroom door and stop the shooter. The breakdown in trust between the community and the police force is deeply felt for some.
Cross said it’s “infuriating” to be policed by the same officers who were there the day of the shooting.
“There were officers in there that could have ended it … but were told to stand down. And they listened,” he said. “And then you see them, you get pulled over by them.”
“It’s infuriating … because now I’m looking into the eyes of somebody that heard our children screaming, that heard the gunman reload and didn’t rush in there,” he said.
In an attempt to rebuild trust, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin recently hired an assistant police chief from outside the town. However, like the families of the victims, he awaits the results of the local district attorney’s criminal investigation. The delay in receiving updates from the district attorney’s office has left him disheartened.
“As mayor and I think I speak for the county judge, too, I’m not gonna just throw everything at the DA. But in one year’s time, I’ve had not one briefing, not one,” McLaughlin said.
CBS News reached out to Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell about the criminal investigation. She said it is still in the hands of the Texas Rangers and that one she receives their findings, her office will review them and present any potential charges to a Uvalde grand jury.