“It’s a great funeral that never ends”

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People hug at the entrance to the funeral home where Nevaeh Alyssa Bravo, one of the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, lies. /REUTERS

Massacre at the Uvalde school

Specialists from local funeral homes strive to reconstruct the faces of children destroyed by the gunshots

For more than a century, the Church of the Sacred Heart of Uvalde (Texas) has been the cornerstone of the Catholic community of that town with deep Mexican roots, but none of its parish priests has ever had the immense task that will fall from today on the shoulders of Father Eduardo Morales: twelve funerals in one week. “It’s like a big funeral that never ends,” Father Eddie told NBC with a bitter laugh that he had to explain. “I laugh so as not to cry,” he clarified.

Where there was no room even for black humor was in the two funeral homes that, since this Tuesday, serve as a burning chapel. Tiny white coffins, far from the cameras before which the parents of the 19 children murdered last Tuesday at Robb Elementary School have already wept, by an elusive and vicious teenager who could not have graduated that week due to his failure school.

To show them to their parents, embalmers have had to do many facial reconstructions with thanatoesthetic techniques. That’s how shattered Salvador Ramos left the corpses, who began by shooting his grandmother in the face and his pulse no longer trembled when he entered the school.

One of his first fatalities in the fourth grade class from which only one girl came out alive was Ameri Jo Garaza. Her stepfather, her paramedic, was helping relieve the blood-drenched surviving girl he thought was injured when she realized she had no bullet holes. “He told me it was the blood of her best friend… Ameri,” Alfredo Garza broke into tears inconsolable before the CNN cameras, while he hugged a portrait of the girl.

“It was so sweet! She had a heart of gold. How can you shoot a face like that? », He wondered he torn. The portrait had been taken that same morning, when he received one of the end-of-year honorary awards.

the fateful call

The little girl had just turned ten years old this May. Her parents gave her the mobile phone that she had asked for so much, without imagining that it would cost her life. Hearing the gunman tell them “You’re all going to die,” the girl dialed the emergency phone and was shot in the face.

His wake was precisely the first this week at Hill Crest Funeral Home, which is next to the school where he died. Two of his employees wanted to help Ramos when they saw him crash into the ditch with his grandmother’s station wagon, but the boy emerged shot through the passenger window and they fled.

As if they were trying to expiate the guilt of not having prevented the massacre, the funeral home has offered its services free of charge to the victims, imitated by the other funeral home in town that this week cannot keep up.

Like the florist, who has had to bring people from other parts of the state to carry out the flower arrangements they order. All of Uvalde this week is a parade of tears from every corner of Texas. There are many who want to pay tribute to the children and show their solidarity with the families, determined to remember who their children were. Obedient children, smiling, with dreams of their own who already gave signs of who they would be in life stolen instantly with a semi-automatic AR-15, purchased legally, like most of those who unleash massacres in the US.

Since then there have been 17 mass shootings that don’t make it past the local headlines, according to the Gun Violence Archive that tracks them. In total, 13 dead and 70 injured in less than a week, 230 mass shootings so far this year.

Democratic Senator from Connecticut, Chris Murphy, whose political life was marked by the Newtown school massacre, is leading the legislative effort to implement some type of legislation that limits the sale of weapons without being expected to pass the Lower House, where his party has a majority. The battle of arms is as lost as the lives that are mourned this week in Uvalde.

New Zealand support for gun regulation

The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, met on Tuesday with the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, and with President Joe Biden at the White House in the framework of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the recent tensions in the region. of the Indo-Pacific. New Zealand is no stranger to gun ban discussion and debate. New Zealand Attorney General David Parker announced in March 2019 that the New Zealand government was going to ban semi-automatic rifles following the Christchurch massacre. The New Zealand prime minister conveyed to Biden that “anything” that both nations can share “that can be of value” will be beneficial.

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