WACO, Texas — Wacoans gathered outside the South Waco Community Center Thursday to pay respects to the 21 victims that lost their lives during the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.
On May 24, 2022, a gunman opened fire on a classroom full of children and two teachers. Beverly Hills, TX Mayor LucyAnn Sanchez-Miramontez said she organized the event to show her support.
Sanchez-Miramontez said, "Even though they're miles away form Uvalde, we want to let them know they have our thoughts and prayers."
She said the moment of remembrance is also meant to empower people to use their voices by speaking up against gun violence and voting for leadership that will make a change.
At the event, people prayed, sang hymns and released balloons to honor the deceased. In addition, a voter registration table was available for those wishing to enact change by voting in upcoming elections. Waco Hispanic Museum Chairman Louis Garcia said he's tired of seeing mass violence against Black and Brown people.
"A lot of them were Hispanic, and a lot of them were children, but they were also close to home," Garcia said. "... We just wanted people to know that we support them and we support the change also."
Another person who would like to see a difference locally is LaToya Wells. The mother lost her 21-year-old daughter Sakyra Young to gun violence. She spoke at the vigil with aims of reaching everyone possible.
Wells said grieving her child will never end and as a parent her heart goes out to those who lost their children to senseless violence.
"I don't know their children and they don't know mine, but I cried not just for my child tonight, but I cried for those children as well because I know how their parents feel," Wells said.
She believes leaders should listen to citizens and take action to prevent disturbed people from shooting innocent people to death.
Wells said, "I'd like to see something change sooner rather than later."
Wells said the man who domestically abused and killed her daughter wasn't supposed to legally obtain a gun, but attained one anyhow. The 18-year-old Uvalde shooter legally obtained the weapons used in his attack on his grandmother and the elementary school.
"You have it right now to where basically anyone can go get one (a gun).
She said its hurtful knowing people who want to hurt others have easy access to guns. Wells and other McLennan County residents at Thursday's vigil chose to not be silent about rising gun violence in Central Texas and across the state.
Wells said, "I will always speak up."