It’s been almost one year since the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde killed 19 young students and two teachers. The families of those lost recently shared their experiences with journalism students at Texas State University.
Nikki and Brett Cross told Elissa Jorgensen about their nephew Uziyah Garcia, who they were raising as their son:
Nikki Cross: He was just like the funnest little boy – very loving and kind. He’d experienced some bullying in his old school. So when they came here to live with me, he was just so excited and happy to be here. And he made so many friends on his first day; he said, you know, everybody just seemed to be more accepting of him. And I really got to watch him go from kind of a withdrawn, quiet boy to the just, I mean, hyper funny – he loved to joke. He loves his siblings. Spider-Man is his favorite superhero. I think he related to Spider-Man in a way where Spider-Man was a teenage hero, you know, a young hero, and Uzi loved to help people. He was a huge helper; anytime we were doing anything, he was right there helping.
Brett Cross: He always wanted to put a smile on your face. He didn’t like it when you were sad or upset or anything like that. So he’d go out of his way to make you smile, to laugh, to make you forget that pain. And I mean, it’s hard because he’s not here to take away these frowns.
Nikki Cross: He was loud – for such a small boy, so loud. And sometimes I would get mad, you know, like, ‘Uzi, shh, keep it down. There’s so many of us in this house, and you don’t got to be so loud.’
Brett Cross: Now that silence is deafening. There’s days that you function just a little bit easier. But overall, it’s not good days anymore.
Nikki Cross: You have OK days; you have days that maybe aren’t so bad, but a huge part of my life is missing. So I don’t think I’m ever going to be OK again.
To this day, I kind of always feel like I’m looking for him. I just think that’s from so much time, so many hours that day we were looking in the neighborhood. You know, there was rumors kids ran to the neighborhood. There was rumors kids were at the funeral home, at the hospitals. I called every hospital that you can imagine in this entire area to see if they had an unidentified little boy, you know, from Uvalde, anything – never got any answers. And I still didn’t get to see him for about a week after. So it’s just been a lot of time feeling like I was looking for him. And it hasn’t gone away yet.
I wish I could say enough has been enough and this country is gonna open their eyes – but I’ve been to D.C.; I’ve been to Austin. I’ve met with many, many lawmakers. And one thing that they never fail to tell me is they don’t think the votes are there. So I want to believe that we can do it. And I know we’re fighting really hard. But I don’t have faith in our government. This is no longer just a public school issue anymore. It’s everywhere: Walmart, movie theaters. I mean, it’s time for a change. And I just, I want them to know that we’re going to keep standing up, and we’re going to keep speaking out and we’re never going to stop. Never.
Brett Cross: And the blood is on all of these legislators’ hands that choose not to do anything. And I know that they can sleep well at night and everything, but I don’t know how.
Nikki Cross: It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when it will affect your community. So it is up to all of us – as a whole, as a country, the world; I don’t care where you’re from – to start speaking up about this issue. It’s not Democratic. It’s not Republican. It’s just American. And our children are dying.
» Voices from Uvalde: ‘I just don’t want anybody to forget about her’