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Two children killed in Uvalde school shooting laid to rest Tuesday

Amerie Jo Garza, 10, was laid to rest on Tuesday following a funeral service at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde, Texas. She was one of 19 students and two teachers killed in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School last week. Photo by Jon Farina/UPI
1 of 10 | Amerie Jo Garza, 10, was laid to rest on Tuesday following a funeral service at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Uvalde, Texas. She was one of 19 students and two teachers killed in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School last week. Photo by Jon Farina/UPI | License Photo

May 31 (UPI) -- The first two of 19 children killed a week ago in a mass shooting in central Texas were buried during funeral services on Tuesday as investigators and the community cope with the aftermath of the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook a decade ago.

Funerals for slain students Amerie Jo Garza and Maite Rodriguez were held on Tuesday.

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Family members of both children said their classmates recounted that they tried to help others during the shooting.

"Her classmates said she was brave. Grabbing all of the other students, telling them where to hide," Maite's cousin Destiny Esquivel told CNN. "She is a hero."

Amerie's father learned from two of her classmates that his daughter tried to call 911 during the shooting.

"I just want people to know she died trying to save her classmates," Angel Garcia said Wednesday. "She just wanted to save everyone."

Memorial services for student Jose Flores Jr. and teacher Irma Garcia are scheduled for Wednesday.

Garcia will be buried with her husband Jose, who died of a heart attack shortly after his wife's death at Robb Elementary School a week ago.

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In Uvalde, a small south-central Texas town that has only two funeral homes, funerals for all the victims are scheduled for the next two weeks.

Nineteen children and two educators were killed in the May 24 shooting attack. Police are still investigating the assault and the shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, who was killed by police inside the school -- which may be torn down and replaced.

Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez said that President Joe Biden has offered federal funds to rebuild the school and Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said he doesn't expect the existing school to be used again.

"They don't want to go back into that school," Gutierrez said according to KENS-TV. "It certainly needs to be a community decision, but that needs to happen."

Gutierrez said that the federal money to rebuild would come from the School Emergency Response to Violence grant, which is earmarked specifically to help schools recover from a violent or traumatic event.

After 20 young children were killed in the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., in 2012, the city rebuilt Sandy Hook Elementary School with funds from the grant, as did the Santa Fe Independent School District after a school shooting there in 2018.

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"I don't think anybody's plans are but to tear that building down," McLaughlin told KENS-TV. "It needs to be torn down.

"I would never ask, expect, a child to have to walk through those doors ever, ever again. That building needs to be gone. Taken away. Gone."

Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee, D-Texas, chair of the House judiciary subcommittee on crime, said she will call for a hearing to give families a chance to tell their stories and explore ways to prevent more shootings.

"We will look comprehensively at Uvalde and the incident that occurred last Tuesday," Lee said, according to The Washington Post.

The Justice Department has said it will investigate the law enforcement response to the Uvalde shooting.

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