Touched by tragedy: Local woman has family connection to 10-year-old Texas shooting victim

COLUMBUS, Ind. — A local woman is navigating shock and grief in the aftermath of the Uvalde, Texas school shooting after learning an extended family member was among the children who died in the Robb Elementary School classroom.

Columbus resident Letty Guevara received a text message from a friend about a school shooting in Texas at about 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Letty Guevara

At the time, Guevara, 50, was at Columbus Regional Hospital, where she works in food services. Her friend said she believed the shooting had occurred in San Antonio, where Guevara had spent part of her childhood.

Guevara didn’t think too much of it at first, “and I just kind of went on about my work. I’m like, ‘I’ll check it out later.’” But then her friend texted back and said, “‘Wait a minute. I meant to say Uvalde.’”

“And that’s when I stopped,” Guevara said.

Guevara has lots of family in Uvalde, Texas, a town of about 15,000 people located 85 miles west of San Antonio. As a child, she would often stay in Uvalde for a couple months at a time. Guevara celebrated her 50th birthday in the town this past September.

One of her cousins lives across the street from Robb Elementary School, where an 18-year-old gunman armed with an AR-15 style rifle earlier on Tuesday entered Robb Elementary School, broke into a fourth-grade classroom and “began shooting anyone that was in his way,” killing 19 children and two teachers, authorities said Wednesday.

Once Guevara learned that the mass shooting happened in Uvalde, she went to the break room at CRH and started frantically making phone calls, desperately trying to reach her family in Uvalde. “But nobody was picking up,” she said.

“I called a friend that lives in San Antonio, and she put on the news, and I’m like, ‘I can’t believe it. I can’t get ahold of anybody in Uvalde,’” Guevara said. “She’s like, ‘Well, everybody’s probably scrambling trying to find their loved ones.’”

Guevara left work and continued trying to reach her family members in Uvalde one by one. “I had to go down the list,” Guevara said. “I mean, I have lots of family (in Uvalde.) My mom has about 10 brothers and sisters.”

Finally, she reached one of her cousins in Uvalde, who said her children and grandchildren were fine, but didn’t know about the rest of the family because “everything’s so chaotic right now.”

But about an hour or two hours later, Guevara said she received devastating news. Her cousin’s husband in Illinois posted on Facebook that his nephew, 10-year-old Jose Flores, was one of the 19 children killed in the school massacre.

“It is with such shock and sadness that I am even writing this,” the Facebook post said. “…I cannot begin to imagine just how devastating the news was to you all. RIP sweet angel.”

“I’m still in shock,” Guevara told The Republic as she added an imprint to a Texas flag on her front door that she had bought in Uvalde with the words “Prayers for Uvalde.”

“I just can’t believe it. …He’s going to be missed big time, that’s for sure.”

For the complete story and more photos, see Thursday’s Republic.

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