(NewsNation) — Zinna Aguilera has lived near Robb Elementary School for 32 years. She went there. Her children went there. Her grandchildren went there.
“It’s home,” Aguilera said of the school she and all 12 of her siblings attended.
But from her kitchen table Tuesday, instead of watching the second, third and fourth graders at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas play outside as always, she instead watched police carry them out on stretchers.
Nineteen children and two staff members died at Robb Elementary on Tuesday when suspected gunman 18-year-old Salvador Ramos opened fire in the school. The gunman also died.
“I’ve lived in my home for the last 32 years and never in my world would I imagine this would happen across from my house,” Aguilera said.
Uvalde and Robb Elementary School together make up a tight-knit community with deep roots in a town of just over 15,000 people, where everyone knows everyone, Aguilera said.
“I come from a family of 13 and we all attended Robb Elementary,” Aguilera said. “I grew up a block from the school, we all walked to school everyday. I’ve now lived across the street for 32 years, my grandchildren, my daughters went there. Anyone you can imagine that lives around this neighborhood has come to Robb.”
What she saw Tuesday, therefore, was completely unlike anything she has seen before, and completely unimaginable.
“There was a lot of police presence everywhere, everything was blocked off, police officers, any type of law enforcement were coming and going, guns drawn, rifles drawn, trying to get to the scene and trying to take cover at the same time,” Aguilera said.
Parents began showing up to Robb Elementary School to pick up their children, who were being shuttled to the civic center for safety. Aguilera said the parents showing up was “total chaos.”
“Finally, they were able to bus some of them out, others, they were told to take them to the high school and eventually they ended up at the civic center and that’s where a majority of the children were picked up,” she said.
The final day of class for students at Robb Elementary was supposed to be Thursday. High school graduation in was supposed to happen Friday, Aguilera said.
Just last week, the outgoing high school seniors toured Robb Elementary School in their caps and gowns, getting high fives and cheers from the elementary school students who one day wanted to be in the same position as them.
For 19 of those children, that day will never come. For the entire town of Uvalde, life will never be the same.