“She loved animals,” cousin Destiny Esquivel told CNN’s Adrienne Broaddus on Monday. “She was determined, she was smart. She was going to be someone.”
“Her classmates said she was brave. Grabbing all of the other students, telling them where to hide,” Esquivel said. “She is a hero.”
The devastating loss of 21 lives has deeply wounded a South Texas community that is rallying in support of one another.
“I just want people to know she died trying to save her classmates,” Angel Garcia said Wednesday. “She just wanted to save everyone.”
“Our focus on Tuesday is on our families who lost loved ones,” Mayor Don McLaughlin said Monday in a statement. “We begin burying our children tomorrow, the innocent victims of last week’s murders at Robb Elementary School. The special City Council meeting will not take place as scheduled.”
Calls for help from the classroom
Officers had responded within minutes of the suspect entering the classroom, yet were repelled by the gunman’s fire and then stationed in a hallway awaiting reinforcements for more than an hour.
At a Friday press conference, Texas Department of Public Safety director Col. Steven McCraw confirmed that the Uvalde school district police chief was the official who made the decision not to breach the classrooms — though McCraw did not identify Arredondo by name.
According to the timeline released by Texas DPS, several 911 calls were made by children inside the classroom where the gunman was located, all while police were waiting in the hallway.
“Advise we do have a child on the line,” the dispatcher says. “Child is advising he is in the room full of victims.”
The video indicates police at the scene were informed at least one child remained alive inside the classrooms.
CNN has not been able to independently confirm the video/audio. It is unclear the source of the video as well as at what point in the incident the audio is heard. CNN has reached out to authorities to answer questions about this audio.
Community supported by those near and far
Assistance continues to pour in from neighbors as well as strangers.
Carlos Hernandez, whose restaurant is a mile from Robb Elementary, had given away more than 60 family-sized platters in less than two hours to feed mourning families and neighbors on Thursday.
“It’s a real tough situation, I’m just trying to show the kids that they do have us as their backbone and a support system,” Hernandez told CNN. “We always provide, whether there is an incident or no incident.”
“A lot of times after something like this people don’t want to talk to a human,” Bonnie Fear, a crisis response coordinator with Lutheran Church Charities, told CNN. “After traumatic events, people don’t want to deal with people, sometimes they just want that thing that they can touch, talk to without being judged, and it’s pretty much that simple.”
“They show unconditional love,” she added, pointing to the dogs.
Elsewhere, the El Progreso Memorial Library has become a place of healing.
On Wednesday, just a day after the shooting, children’s librarian Martha Carreon sat in front of rows of little faces, reading, singing, and giggling with the children, taking them away to a safe place far from the school where many of them became witness to horror.
“We want our building to be a safe space, a refuge that is a quiet, calm and cool haven,” El Progreso Memorial Library director Mendell Morgan told CNN.
CNN’s Alaa Elassar, Holly Yan, Nick Watt, Joe Sutton, Aya Elamroussi, Theresa Waldrop, Amanda Watts, Virginia Langmaid, Aaron Cooper and Paula Reid contributed to this report.