Anguished Father Says 10-Year-Old Was ‘Always Smiling’

Pretty much Alfred Garza III’s entire family — parents, girlfriend, sister, aunt and more — had gathered in the room when the Texas Rangers broke the horrible news late Tuesday: His 10-year-old daughter, Amerie Jo Garza, the girl who loved Play-Doh, was among the victims of the Robb Elementary School shooting.

Amerie Jo was “full of life, a jokester, always smiling,” her father said in brief phone interview. She didn’t talk a lot about school, but liked spending time with her friends at lunch, in the playground and during recess. “She was very social,” he said. “She talked to everybody.”

The family’s loss came after two years of losing several loved ones to Covid-19.

“We were finally getting a break, nobody was passing away,” Mr. Garza said. “Then this happened.”

Mr. Garza, who works at a used-car dealership in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 people at the school on Tuesday, said that he was on a lunch break when Amerie Jo’s mother told him that she couldn’t get their daughter out of the school because it was on lockdown.

“I just went straight over there and found the chaos,” he said. He recalled seeing cars backing up on the streets, with parents trying to get into the school to find their children. Police cars were everywhere.

At first, he said, he didn’t think that anyone had been hurt. Then he heard that children had died. For hours, he awaited word about the condition of his daughter.

“I was in kind of in shock,” he said, after hearing word from the Texas Rangers. When he got home, he started to go through her pictures. “That’s when I kind of had the release,” he said. “I started crying and started mourning.”

Source: NYT > Top Stories

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