SAN ANTONIO — Mourners in Uvalde and other Texas cities held vigils Wednesday for the 19 children and two teachers killed in Tuesday’s shooting at an elementary school.
“Our hearts are broken. We are devastated,” Pastor Tony Gruben of Baptist Temple Church said Wednesday evening at the Uvalde County Fairplex.
Vigils were also held in San Antonio and in the state capital, Austin.
In San Antonio, around 80 miles to the east, a crying woman distributed flowers and balloons to the mourners who gathered at San Fernando Cathedral.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg said: “We’re here for Uvalde. We’re here to be a witness to the collective trauma.”
Interfaith leaders and local officials joined residents in grief and anger, forming a half-circle as the cathedral’s bell tolled 21 times, once for each victim.
“Children shouldn’t suffer at the hands of anyone,” said San Antonio resident Justin “Tex” Mire, a father of four. “You always have to believe there’s hope.”
Tuesday’s shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, a city of around 15,200, killed 19 students and two teachers. Law enforcement officers killed the 18-year-old gunman, officials have said. A motive is not known.
The mass shooting elicited shock and sadness across the country and beyond. The leaders of Ukraine, France, Germany and Israel were among those expressing condolences over the senseless killing.
In Austin, mourners placed flowers at the state Capitol and called for an end to gun violence, NBC affiliate KXAN of Austin reported.
President Joe Biden said Wednesday that he and first lady Jill Biden will travel to Texas in the coming days to meet with the families of the community. He did not specify a date.
“As a nation, I think we all must be there for them, everyone,” Biden said at an executive order signing ceremony Wednesday.