“I can’t explain the joy I had when I saw my son come out of those doors, and I finally had him. But as a father, I wanted to squeeze him right there, but I wanted to get him out because I didn’t “I don’t want you to see all this,” Alonzo said in an interview outside Uvalde.
Her son was safe, but he soon learned that his niece, Ellie Garcia, was still missing.
He called his sister-in-law Jennifer, Ellie’s mother, and told her that he would check on the SSGT’s nearby Willie de Leon Civic Center, where officials were taking students to reunite with their families.
When he got there, it was already around 4pm and almost empty.
“The school officials tell me that there are no more children here, they have all been picked up.
“‘Do you have a list? Do you have a list of the students who were here?'” Alonzo recalled, asking frantically.
“That school official, I could see it in his eyes and his eyes became glassy and teary, and he said, ‘Sir, they’ll make a statement soon.'”
“” But I miss my niece. She’s not here, ‘” he recalled pleading.
“‘They’ll make a statement soon,'” she recalled, answering simply. Then he knew something was wrong.
Alonzo took her son home and later saw on social media that Eva Mireles, Ellie’s teacher, was dead.
“In my mind, I tried to stay optimistic, but the reality was sinking at the time,” he said. “It wasn’t until my wife told me they were taking DNA swabs from every parent … Why else would they need DNA debris?”
An hour later, his wife called him to tell him that Ellie was among the children killed in the Robb Elementary massacre.
“By far, the worst day of my life. And I’ll never forget that day. I can play those hours so vividly in my mind and it’s just etched in my mind,” Alonzo said.
Sorry, even for the gunman
Ellie Garcia and her uncle Adrian were very close. He, his wife, and their son, Eliden, Ellie’s cousin, picked Ellie up for church most Sundays. Alonzo describes her as a happy child who loved her family and friends, her dog Rocco, TikTok dancing, and basketball.
She was excited about her 10th birthday on June 4th. Now it will never reach those magic double digits. His family will bury him two days later, on June 6.
Ellie’s uncle was understandably moved to explain that cold reality.
“These days will be here, and I just pray that God will give comfort to our family and the strength to overcome this weekend,” he said.
Alonzo said he was joined by his niece for his faith, which is clearly leading him through this unimaginable tragedy.
A volunteer was even offered to forgive in cold blood the gunman who killed his niece, 18 more children and 2 adults.
“I forgive him. As powerful as this, I forgive him,” Alonzo said.
When asked how he could get to the place where he forgiven the shooter just days after the massacre and even before Ellie was buried, he quoted the scriptures.
“The Bible says in Ephesians 4 that we should forgive one another, just as God has forgiven us. And I have no hatred for him,” Alonzo said.
By the way, he is very angry.
“I’m full of anger, but I don’t feel any hatred for him,” she said calmly.
He is also angry with any law enforcement officer who has made mistakes in waiting so long before entering his niece’s classroom.
“She could have been saved. She could have been hurt. We don’t know if she was alive inside these, what was it, 70 minutes, I think. We don’t know if she was alive. I can only hope she didn’t feel any pain and I hope that she was quick and she didn’t suffer. Who knows? Maybe she wouldn’t have been a survivor. But I think in those minutes, hour, we wouldn’t have 19 children, “he said, adding. who also pardons anyone who has made mistakes in law enforcement.
Avoid more mass shootings
Alonzo is a hunter and gun owner. He says that will not change.
But he doesn’t think assault weapons like the one the shooter legally bought in Texas should be allowed.
“I think our guns should be taken from civilians? No, I’m against it, but I’m in favor of banning AR-15 assault rifles. No civilian should have this kind of rifle, only military and police “These are weapons of war, and civilians don’t need weapons of war,” Alonzo said. “Collectively, I think a lot can be done, not only in gun laws, but also in social media algorithms, something. Let’s say the algorithm had caught those words and a notification would have been sent to the authorities. : “Hey, this user is saying he will shoot at school. They would have gotten into this very quickly and possibly stopped it later. “
He hopes politicians can put aside their differences and find solutions, but like most Americans, he is skeptical.
For now, he’s focused on his family, helping his son, Ellie’s cousin, get over it. He is helping Ellie’s parents, her sister-in-law and her brother-in-law with the errands and anything else they need. And he talks about his beautiful niece.
“We were grateful to have Ellie with us for nine years of her life. We will never forget her,” Alonzo said. “She will always be part of this family, even in her death.”
CNN’s Monica Serrano, Alexa Miranda and Hope Howard contributed to this report.