Santa Fe shooting survivor horrified as Uvalde becomes deadliest Texas school massacre

Mom of Santa Fe victim says Tuesday’s shooting shows promises made about gun reform in Texas remain unfulfilled.

Allison Hess for NPR
“Santa Fe Strong” began appearing in Santa Fe and across South Texas soon after the school shooting.

As the community in Uvalde, Texas reels from the May 24 shooting at an elementary school, survivors and family of the Santa Fe shooting victims reacted with support for those affected and frustration in the wake of another tragedy.

The May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas killed 19 elementary schoolers and 2 adults. The suspected shooter, who used an assault rifle bought days prior, was killed by police. Eight students and two teachers were killed at Santa Fe High School on May 18, 2018.

JoElla Lace Kilgore, a survivor of the Santa Fe shooting, released a statement on her Instagram reacting to what happened in Uvalde. "Days like today are always mini-high school reunions. We text each other: Are you okay? This sucks. What can we do? I'm praying for you. Every day is May 18th," Kilgore's statement read.

Kilgore advised everyone watching the news to "hold your own family tight," and to think of the families who lost their children in Uvalde. "For four years, we have held the title of the deadliest school shooting in Texas. Today, we no longer hold that title," Kilgore wrote. "And what an awful thing that is to lose."

Rhonda Hart, mother of Santa Fe shooting victim Kimberly Vaughan, went live on Twitter hours after the Uvalde shooting to recount her experience demanding action after her daughter's death. "He [Texas Governor Greg Abbott] promised us in a room at Ellington Air Force base that there would be more gun safety after our shooting, and he lied. He absolutely lied."

Hart called for changes in Texas and encouraged her followers to vote for former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, who is currently running for governor against incumbent Abbott.

O’Rourke made headlines Wednesday when he interrupted a press conference featuring Abbott and other statewide officials to criticize them for their inaction on gun reform efforts.

"We need all Texans to in this one moment in time put aside their own agendas, think of somebody other than ourselves, think about the people who are hurt," Abbott said after O’Rourke was escorted out, later adding that the emphasis should be on mental health efforts and school security infrastructure.

Hart emphasized her commitment to advocating for gun control and being a resource for others.

"I will be recounting my experience with Greg and guns in Santa Fe for as long as I have to," Hart said as she ended her live stream.

On Feb. 11, the accused Santa Fe shooter was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial, but the court said his competency would be reevaluated in 2023. His stay at a mental health facility has been extended three times since his release from prison following the May 2018 shooting.