Their 11-year-old 4th Grader was one of 21 victims killed at Robb Elementary School last May. The Salazar family are still feeling pain so raw it’s hard to move on.”
I recently traveled to Uvalde, TX to spend the day with the Salazar family. I can’t thank them enough for their hospitality and openness while navigating and living every parent’s worst nightmare.
“Layla was just 7 months old in 2011 when Vinnie, who worked for a steel company, moved the family from a Chicago suburb to his hometown of Uvalde because he believed it would be safer there.
At around 11:40 a.m., May 22, 2022 Vinnie received a text message about a lockdown at the school. Then, a short while later, another text: An active shooter was on the school campus. Vinnie heard sirens wailing and cars racing past the family’s home and called Melinda at work to tell her the news. “By the time I got to the school, it was already chaos,” he says. “People were screaming and running everywhere.”
Officials announced that no students or teachers had been hurt, Vinnie says, and they directed parents to pick up their children at the nearby civic center. There, over the course of the next hours, school buses packed with children arrived—but Layla never appeared. At 9 o’clock that evening, when the small group of parents remaining were asked to give DNA samples, Vinnie and Melinda realized they would never see Layla again. Not long afterward they were led into another room and informed that their DNA was a match for one of the victims. “ ‘We’re sorry,’ they told us,” Vinnie recalls as tears stream down his cheeks. “ ‘Your daughter was one of the deceased.’ ”
At the end of their new hallway is an empty bedroom that echoes in silence, with neatly stacked clothes, a twin bed and a door plastered with Billie Eilish stickers leaning against a wall. That door was brought here from the family’s old house (last frame).