Even the “lucky” kids who survived the fatal Robb Elementary School massacre last year have been changed forever. In a recent interview with PEOPLE, Briana Ruiz, 33, said that her son Daniel “Tres” Ruiz Garza, 10, “lives with his scars daily.” Daniel was a fourth grader two doors down from the classroom where the slaughter occurred.
According to Briana Ruiz, her child should be okay because he is alive, as she told PEOPLE. But she claims that he is not fine.
Briana Ruiz comments, “He went through something very traumatic,” adding that Daniel’s teacher was shot. “He saw his teacher lying in a pool of blood. His teacher was telling him, ‘Get me help!’”
Daniel used to smile, dance, and make people laugh. However, even though Daniel survived the mass shooting, he has completely changed according to Briana Ruiz.
Briana Ruiz is relieved that the children left the building alive, but she adds, “But they were all in that building together.”
Briana Ruiz and her son promote mental health awareness by sharing Daniel’s continued struggles with PTSD, anxiety, and survivor’s guilt with the public and on social media. He wished that his favorite cousin Ellie Garcia, who was killed, had been in the same class as him.
Briana Ruiz claims that her son still holds himself responsible for the massacre’s fatalities. He has always guarded her (Ellie Garcia). He believes that he could have saved her or he would have died alongside her.
‘He Needed to Make Sure His Friends Were Safe’
Briana Ruiz hurried to the school on May 24, 2022, after her dad learned about the gunman through a citizens band radio. She recalls, “You could hear the shooting.”
Elsa Avila, Briana Ruiz’s son’s teacher, accidentally broke her key in the lock to bar the gunman from entering the room. The teacher was still wounded in the stomach, though.
As one of the helpers in the classroom, Daniel prayed and worked to keep his teacher awake in order to prevent him from passing out from getting shot. He assisted a classmate who had been shot in the face to exit the classroom first with the help of a friend. He then assisted the other pupils in climbing out the window.
When she didn’t see Daniel despite seeing his classmates, she feared the worst.
“I can’t even describe the feeling that I felt because it felt so ugly. My head instantly was just like, ‘He’s dead. He’s dead,’” Briana Ruiz shares.
When Daniel left the school, he grabbed hold of his mother and wouldn’t let go.
Daniel has 23 cousins that attended Robb Elementary School. Daniel’s mother urged him to follow the officer’s instructions, enter the funeral home, find his cousins, and make sure everyone was secure.
On the road to recovery, the families of those who were killed have come together. They’ve developed a special kind of love that they never anticipated, and they’ve discovered creative ways to remember their loved ones through tattoos, runs, scholarships, and memorial services.
They do it to preserve the memory of the 21 victims both inside and outside the city limits of Uvalde.
Families founded Lives Robbed, a nonprofit group that campaigns for reforms in the law governing the possession of firearms. Both in Washington, D.C., and the Texas Capitol, they have held protests with the intention of raising awareness about school safety and gun reform.