UVALDE, Texas — A large metal cross joins the many others standing tall in Uvalde nearly one month after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.
On Saturday, Michael Collins, his family and many others traveled from Mineral Wells, Texas, to the small Texas town. In tow, the caravan transported a 15 foot metal cross Collins spent the last two weeks building with his son and several volunteers.
Collins started a Go Fund Me to raise money for the cross but he said most people donated the parts.
“I don’t know if it was my son telling me to build it or God,” said Collins.
Collins has built two other crosses before back home. The father built the first one for his 26-year-old son Brady who died in a car crash in 2019. Collins said his son lived a rough life but changed his ways about a year and a half before his passing.
“Being by Brady’s [cross], I have a peace in me I can’t describe. I call it my heaven on earth when I’m around it,” said Collins.
He also built one for a woman name Glenda Dow.
“Brady worked for [Glenda’s] husband. He looked at them like they were his own grandparents. Ten months after we lost Brady, they both got covid at a Christmas party they threw and she didn’t make it. She called Brady ‘her precious’. Her husband asked me for a cross after she died and we built it,” he said.
Collins said he tried contacting the City to find a place to install the cross he built for Uvalde but said he got the ‘cold shoulder’. He said a council member offered to put it in storage until a permanent memorial site could be established. Collins denied the offer.
“I decided private property was where this was going to go and this belongs to the people, families, victims,” he said.
Collins said social media got him connected to the owner of the Ace Bail Bonds Co. on West Main Street. He decided to install the cross at that location next to a dove mural.
Twenty-two names are etched onto metal hearts: 19 students, 2 teachers and the name of Irma Garcia’s husband, who died from a heart attack after the shooting. Collins also created a mail slot on the side for people to write letters to send to heaven.
“Seeing the cross is really awesome,” said Sylvia Garcia.
Garcia was visiting from San Antonio with her family. Her adopted children are from Uvalde and before they moved to San Antonio, Garcia said one of them was supposed to attend Robb Elementary School.
“It’s just really difficult to think that we could’ve lost her,” said Garcia.
She still gets emotional thinking about the ‘what if’ but she wanted to bring her kids to see the cross. She said they were related to Tess Mata and Xavier Lopez, victims of the mass shooting.
“We wanted to make sure they see and know about them,” she said.
In addition to the cross, Collins said they plan to make a donation to the victim families.