Uvalde First Responder Learned of Stepdaughter's Death From Surviving Classmate

Angel Garza said his Amerie tried dialing 911 during the shooting, but before she could make the call, the gunman killed her

Amerie Jo Garza
Garza Family

Medical aide Angel Garza rushed to Robb Elementary School soon after a gunman opened fire on a classroom of grade schoolers and immediately found a girl "covered in blood" among the terrified children streaming out of the building.

Garza, assuming the girl was injured, stopped her and asked if she needed help.

“I’m not hurt," the girl told Garza. “He shot my best friend. She’s not breathing. She was just trying to call the cops.”

When Garza asked the girl what her friend's name was, she responded: "Amerie."

Amerie Jo Garza, Angel Garza's stepdaughter, was among 19 children who died, along with two teachers, when an 18-year-old gunman barricaded himself in a fourth-grade classroom Tuesday at the school in this southwestern Texas town and began to kill.

Angel Garza told CNN's Anderson Cooper that his daughter tried dialing 911 during the shooting, but before she could make the call, the gunman killed her.

"How do you look at this girl and shoot her,” said Garza through tears.

That phone was a recent gift for her 10th birthday. Angel Garza recalled the look of excitement on her face.

“It just lit up with the happiest expression,” he said, noting she had been wanting a cellphone for a while.

Amerie was a happy child who made the honor roll and loved to paint, draw and work in clay. “She was very creative,” said her grandmother Dora Mendoza. “She was my baby. Whenever she saw flowers she would draw them.”

Now, Angel is left to wonder about her final moments. Did she say anything to the shooter? Did he see her reach for her cellphone?

Garza and his family are among so many still sorting through unimaginable grief.

Click here for complete coverage of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

The Associated Press/NBC
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