UVALDE coroner recalls the heartbreaking moment he realized he knew the victims of the school shooting when he found their bodies.
Eulalio “Lalo” Diaz Jr. made his way to the Robb Elementary horror scene after receiving a phone call alerting him that a mass shooter had massacred the small Texas town.
He could never have prepared for what he found in the fourth grade classroom, where an 18-year-old gunman had killed two teachers and 19 children.
Upon entering the gory scene, Diaz quickly realized that one of the victims was his high school classmate, teacher Irma Garcia, whom he has known his entire life.
“I walked around the desk and saw pictures of her family and her butt [the desk]’ Diaz recalled. “I came back and found it was Irma.”
Diaz had been a year ahead of Irma in high school and a year behind her high school sweetheart and husband, Joe Garcia.
“I knew both of them, I had worked with Joe before,” added Diaz. “Great people and I just knew it straight away [Irma] was one of the victims.”
Tragically, Diaz also quickly recognized one of the children killed in the classroom, the daughter of Deputy Sheriff Felix Rubio, Alexandria, 10.
But it wasn’t until Diaz got home that evening that he realized he knew most of the parents of the children he had previously identified.
“I know most of the parents, grandparents, cousins, I’m like, oh god, I can’t believe this is happening,” he said.
“You start to put two and two together and realize whose child they are, and it just applies very closely to you.”
The situation became even more tragic a few days after the shooting when Irma’s husband Joe died of a heart attack.
“We were all just heartbroken, it was devastating for the family. Her funeral was already scheduled…he had made arrangements that morning and for that to happen…” Diaz said.
“It’s just unbelievable, we broke down again. I thought, how much worse can this get? This is the worst tragedy and then this happens.”
As the community grapples with the aftermath of one of the most tragic mass shootings in American history, Diaz is still trying to come to terms with what he witnessed that day.
For the first time in his life, he has gone to counseling along with many of the first responders who witnessed the scene.
“I’m just making sure I’m okay because I have to deal with it. You always hear from soldiers who come back with PTSD because they see things that aren’t normal to see,” Diaz said.
“And that wasn’t normal to see, so it’s going to take some time. There will be things floating around in my head about the scene that I have a hard time forgetting, but I hope one day I will forget them.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5532927/texas-school-shooting-coroner/ Heartbreaking moment A Texas school coroner found bodies of teachers and children he had known for years