The Town’s Stories of Grief and Healing
Crosses circling a fountain in Uvaldes town square, honoring the victims of the shooting.
Crosses circling a fountain in Uvalde’s town square, honoring the victims of the shooting.
Rodrigo Hernandez
Water tower in Uvalde, Texas.

The Robb Elementary School shooting that claimed 21 lives on May 24, 2022, devastated the small town of Uvalde, Texas. For a moment, the eyes of the nation set their attention on a community desperately attempting to put itself back together after horrific tragedy. Initially, the town rallied under “Uvalde Strong,” a phrase that promised unity during hard times. But over time, the city became divided, and the mantra that once unified Uvalde, split the community in two. Many wished to move on with their lives, but for some, that was not possible. This remains true two years later, the pain of losing a loved one is still fresh. The trauma, the heartache, the emptiness. It still haunts Uvalde. The town is still healing.

Students from the CSUN Journalism Department traveled to Uvalde, Texas to meet with families, friends and survivors of the tragedy. This trip was made possible by a generous grant from the Golden Globe Foundation.

Water tower in Uvalde, Texas. (Quinn Alexander)
Outside the Uvalde Police Department.
Fragments of Failed Policing in Uvalde

The Uvalde Police Department has been on the lookout for new hires in recent months.

Near the men’s bathroom is a locked entrance for duty dispatchers and command staff. A hand-written poster displays a quote from the Uvalde Dispatch. It reads:
“Sometimes the most real things in the world are the HEROES we can’t see…”

There are about 41 sworn officers on the Uvalde police force, according to a promotional flier posted to the UPD’s Facebook page. The department is well-equipped, with a fleet of Ford Explorers and Chevrolet Tahoes carrying computers, rifles and traffic radars.

An officer can earn up to $25.45 per hour, or less than $50,000 per year.

The minimum wage in Uvalde is just $7.25.


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Outside the Uvalde Police Department. (Brenda Larin)
Pastor Meyers hugs Nikki Cross, mother of Uziyah Garcia.
A Club No One Wants To Be A Part Of

Grief strikes at the most unexpected times. Never wished for, grief never goes away.

Twenty-one families and dozens more community members in Uvalde, Texas, were forever changed on May 24, 2022, when an 18-year-old went into Robb Elementary School with an AR-15 and killed 19 students and two teachers.

Nothing could’ve prepared the town of 15,000 for the worst: the pain that comes along with losing a loved one.

Their worlds turned upside down after the police took 77 minutes to enter the classrooms. All the comfort they’ve ever known and the familiarity of their hometown vanished in those long minutes.


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Pastor Meyers hugs Nikki Cross, mother of Uziyah Garcia. (Rodrigo Hernandez)
Mural of the 21 victims of the Robb Elementary Shooting.
The Mental Health Pandemic in Texas

On a sunny and windy morning in Uvalde, sun beams illuminate crosses surrounding a water fountain in the middle of the town’s central plaza. Some of the crosses have been knocked down by the strong winds that blow through the town.

There are remembrances left by friends, families and strangers who have all felt the impact of the massacre in Uvalde on May 24, 2022, when 21 lives were cut short by an 18-year-old with a military-grade weapon.

Rocks can be found at the base of each cross. Painted different colors, they carry a common message: “Too beautiful for Earth.”

The walls of the businesses surrounding the town plaza are painted with the portraits of the victims. The murals are beautiful, full of color, showing off the victims’ personalities. Each has a trifold-shaped memorial with the words “In Loving Memory,” adorned with candle-holders and trinkets left by friends and family members.


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Mural of the 21 victims of the Robb Elementary Shooting. (Rodrigo Hernandez)
The Monuments of Uvalde
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