Uvalde School Shooting

‘Everything Will Resurface': Uvalde Families Prepare for First Anniversary of School Shooting

Uvalde families plan to spend the anniversary together and walk through the murals memorializing the victims

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These days, it’s not unusual to find Jesse Rizo in Uvalde’s plaza, reminiscing about his 9-year-old niece Jackie Cazares, a victim of the 2022 Uvalde school shooting who is forever memorialized wearing her first communion dress.

“She wore that proudly, man. It still impacts you when you look at it, the images,” said Rizo.

The photo was taken just two weeks before she was ripped from their family’s arms.

“We all know exactly where we were that day, you know? The pain when you found out that your loved one didn't make it,” he said.

On May 24, 2022, Jackie was just a day away from graduating the 4th grade when a gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde with an assault rifle. Reports later showed he fired at least 100 rounds in just two and a half minutes into classrooms 111 and 112. Jackie was killed along with 18 of her classmates and two teachers. Seventeen others were injured in the attack.

In the center of a town that’s become a living memorial to those lost, Rizo said he can’t help but feel anxious as the first anniversary approaches, not just for Jackie’s family but for the loved ones of all 21 victims.

Jackie Rizo
Jackie Rizo was one of 19 children killed in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. ()

“The time's going to come, and it's going to be 11 o'clock and change and then 11:30, 11:33, 11:35. And your anxiety, the moment where you relive where you were, what you said, what you were wearing. Everything will just resurface that day,” said Rizo.

Instead, he said he would rather remember the day that occurred two weeks prior to the shooting when Jackie stood proudly at the altar.

“It was a very special day,” he said.

Then, Rizo couldn’t help but think that soon enough, the family would be celebrating Jackie’s quinceañera, and before they knew it, her wedding day.

He said he never imagined the celebration that followed would be her last.

“This country song came on. I like country, and I just said, 'Do you know how to dance?’  We started two-stepping, and so we were dancing. I spun her around a few times. And then I said, ‘Jackie, you look so pretty, you look beautiful.’ And she said, 'Well, it's my special day.' And that's how I want to remember her,” said Rizo.

On May 24, families of the victims will spend the anniversary together with a private meal and walk through the murals memorializing the victims.

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