Tyler is nearly 400 miles from Uvalde, but the local community is showing they are one with those who are grieving, no matter the distance.
A small group of residents gathered in downtown Tyler Square on Friday evening for a prayer vigil. One by one, organizers called out the names of each of the 21 victims who were killed in a shooting at Robb Elementary School earlier this week. A cross was brandished for each name in their memory.
The vigil was organized by the Texas African American Museum. Executive Director Gloria Washington said the reason she wanted to hold the vigil was personal to her.
“I’m no stranger to gun violence. I lost my eldest daughter to gun violence,” Washington said. “It touches me for their parents, their brothers, their sisters, even for the youngest, because gun violence can destroy your whole family. It can tear our families apart. That’s why I had a heavy heart to present a prayer vigil for these people.
Participants prayed for peace and comfort for grieving families and the protection of the nation, including local schools.
“We are not exempt,” Washington prayed. “It could have happened to Tyler.. Be a hedge of protection, get your hands on our schools, God.”
Sharmecia Jackson, Tyler ISD educator, was in attendance and said all Texans should mourn with those affected by the shooting.
“When they hurt, we should hurt with them,” Jackson said, full of emotion and pain for families who have lost loved ones.
Washington said she takes peace knowing the children are in heaven.
“They are resting now,” she said. “We will keep their morale high.”
Nineteen children and two teachers lost their lives in the tragic shooting, including 10-year-old Nevaeh Alyssa Bravo; Jacklyn Cazares, 9; Makenna Lee Elrod, 10; Jose Manuel Flores Jr., 10; Eliahna Garcia, 10 years old; Irma Garcia, 48; Uziya Garcia, 10 years old; Amerie Jo Garza, 10; Xavier López, 10 years old; Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10; Tess Mata, 10; Miranda Mathis, 11; Eva Mireles, 44; Alithia Ramírez, 10 years old; Annabell Rodríguez, 10; Maïté Rodriguez, 10 years old; Alexandria “Lexi” Rubio, 10; Layla Salazar, 11; Jailah Nicole Silguero, 10; Eliahana Cruz Torres, 10; and Rojelio Torres, 10.
Other organizers have planned a candlelight vigil Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m. in Bergfeld Park. All are invited to participate and bring signs, as organizers protest for government action against gun violence.