UVALDE, Texas — Good Samaritans from across the country and up the street from Robb Elementary School have rallied in the wake of Tuesday's mass shooting, pouring out love and support for the hurting community, determined to carry the town through this tragedy.

On Thursday, two large displays of 21 white crosses popped up on the lawn in front of the school, as well as at a second site in the town square. The maker of the displays is unknown, but the memorials instantly became the central spots for the families and friends of the deceased to grieve and reflect.

Hundreds of people visited each memorial Thursday evening, including young children who paid tribute to friends and relatives. Hundreds of bouquets of flowers were piled across the bases of each cross at the town square by evening. Visitors used markers to write farewell messages on the crosses, while others wept on their knees.

Resident Nora Gonzalez, a former teacher at Robb Elementary, was not personally affected by the shooting but told the Washington Examiner that she felt obligated to take action that supported her community.


"It's something that you don't think will happen here or anywhere actually, but it has happened. What else can I do?" Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said she had tried to donate blood in an attempt to help the local hospital, but the line was excessively long. Instead, she purchased flowers and brought them to the school. She struggled to get through the barrage of media set up across the street from the school and passed off the bouquet to a state trooper who walked it to the school sign.

Approximately 2,000 townspeople attended a prayer vigil at the county fairgrounds Wednesday night. Guests were greeted by six golden retrievers sitting just inside the entrance of the Fairplex.

The dogs were brought to Uvalde as part of Lutheran Church Charities' K-9 crisis response team, which deploys its highly trained dogs to communities that have recently experienced traumatic events. The dogs have been trained for 2,000 hours each in ways to remain composed in various chaotic circumstances and are able to calm people who interact with them, according to the team's coordinator, Bonnie Fear.

After the shooting Tuesday, Trinity Lutheran Church in Uvalde requested that Fear send some of her team’s 130 dogs to their town. Fear arrived along with six dogs from Texas and Oklahoma. Two additional dogs from Colorado arrived Thursday and will remain in Uvalde through the weekend.

“It started in 2008 after a shooting at a college in Illinois. We started with four golden retrievers,” said Fear, who is based in Colorado, though the organization is headquartered in Illinois. “People were gravitating more toward the dogs than humans at that point because it was so raw."

Fear said science backs up the benefits of having these emotional support dogs on site.

“You see blood pressure goes down. Emotions, people who are bawling, will either cry or they'll smile and say, ‘I needed this. Thank you so much.’ It just brings out whatever they're feeling, and sometimes, I say, ‘We’re a ministry that makes people cry,’ because they hold it in, and when they see the dogs, they cry, or they laugh, or they're joyful. We see a smile," said Fear. "They see that little glimmer of hope that there is good in this world, and that's the message we want to get across.”


Ramon Garcia is co-owner of Bear County Bar-B-Que in San Antonio, Texas, but chose to drive his food truck the 80 miles to Uvalde after the attack. Garcia and his family arrived Tuesday and have offered brisket tacos, cheeseburgers, and sausage wraps to everyone in the community, including as the vigil let out. All the food was provided free of charge.

“We’re giving back to the community of Uvalde as best as we know how: serving food to the community,” Garcia told the Washington Examiner. “We’ve been blessed pretty much to have gigs every weekend over the past almost 12 months straight. So, I mean, we’ve saved up almost enough revenue to be able to cover the costs here, whether it’s gas, food, whatever.”