One of the 19 children killed at Robb Elementary School dreamed of growing up to be a police officer so he could “protect people,” his uncle said ― making it all the more painful that law enforcement failed to protect him.
Jose Flores Jr., 10, was fatally shot along with 18 other children and two teachers when a gunman opened fire on the school in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday. His uncle, 33-year-old Christopher Salazar, spoke to People about the cruel irony of his nephew’s ambitions.
“He wanted to protect people,” Salazar said. “He wanted to be an officer to protect and serve people — and not like the officers here in Uvalde.”
The grieving uncle added, “They didn’t even protect him. They had all these officers be there and none of these officers went in.”
Salazar said previously that Jose was a “very happy” child who “loved going to school.”
Police are facing accusations of cowardice and a catastrophically bungled response in the wake of the shooting. Public officials and law enforcement agencies have provided changing and sometimes contradictory accounts of what happened.
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Col. Steven McCraw said at a Friday press conference that it was “the wrong decision” for more than a dozen police officers to wait outside the locked door leading to two connected classrooms where the shooter was located. McCraw added that officers believed there was no danger to the children inside.
But at the same time, kids in the classrooms were desperately calling 911 for help and the gunman was still shooting. Some of children in those two classrooms survived, including a girl who smeared herself with a classmate’s blood and played dead to escape the shooter’s attention.
Ultimately, Border Patrol tactical agents unlocked the door with a key obtained from a janitor, then shot and killed the gunman, according to The New York Times.