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Congressional leaders hear directly from Uvalde families calling for accountability

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee was joined by Congressman Joaquin Castro, Sen. Roland Gutierrez, parents, teachers and other officials.

SAN ANTONIO — Parents and teachers made painful pleas for change and accountability to congressional leaders Monday afternoon in Uvalde.

The Congressional Children's Caucus, chaired by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and accompanied by Rep. Joaquin Castro, served as a way for the community to directly address their representatives about the tragedy that scarred the families of 19 children and two teachers killed at Robb Elementary. 

Kimberly Rubio remains haunted by the nightmare of May 24 after losing her 10-year-old daughter, Lexi, in the mass shooting. At the same time, they’re staying vocal and advocating for transparency surrounding Texas's deadliest school mass shooting. 

"The fact that I have to sit here and tell y'all, the state and our federal government, how to do their job is evidence enough of the massive failure that we've experienced," Rubio said. "I don't have a blueprint for how to live when your 10-year-old daughter is murdered in her classroom, but I think the state and our nation should have a roadmap by now. This is not the first mass shooting. It will not be the last until we federally ban these weapons." 

Robb Elementary teacher Arnulfo Reyes survived the shooting. But mental and physical scars remain as he reflects on the moments leading up to the 18-year-old gunman entering the classroom and killing 11 of his fourth-grade students.

"When it came to me and I thought about it and saw the bullets breaking sheetrock off the wall, I realized it's a shooter. All the students that were there asking me what's going on and I said, 'I don't know what's going on, but get under the table like we practiced before and close your eyes'" Reyes recounted. "I saw the sparks come out of the gun; (they) hit me, I fell to the ground. He came around and he shot my students." 

Brett Cross, father of Uziyah Garcia, is among the parents who spoke about the daily trauma they're going through. They also said more resources are needed to assist those directly impacted by the shooting. 

"A lot of us are missing work, counseling, therapy. I mean, there's times when a book falls on the floor, my house shuts down," Cross said. "I was never one that really believed in PTSD or anything like that, but it's real. My children get so sick to their stomach with stress, scared to go to school because school is now associated with death."

The parents collectively criticized the National Compassion Fund (NCF), calling the application process lengthy and confusing. Earlier this month, the NCF began accepting requests for the financial aid from eligible participants. There's at least $16 million ready to be distributed. 

According to a press release, Monday's listening session was "an opportunity to listen directly to parents and officials to help move forward a coordinated federal response on helping communities following tragedies that have an ongoing impact on children, and their families and communities."

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