• Sat. Sep 23rd, 2023


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A Son Was Lost, a Daughter Saved

“You could tell by his smile,” she said. “He was happy.”

The gunman attacked Josecito’s room first, then an adjoining one. His bullets also spread near Andrea’s classroom, where she told her grandparents she saw a teacher get shot moments before she fled, climbing through a window. A local newspaper photographer captured a haunting image of Andrea, wearing a pink T-shirt and black shorts, running across the lawn of the school, her face frozen in horror.

When Mr. Flores and Ms. Herrera got the news, it was bewildering and terrifying.

“They told us, pick up your children at the civic center, so I rushed there,” Mr. Flores recalled.

Credit…Jose Flores’ Family, via Reuters

He stood back, riddled with anxiety. Andrea had come out alive. Surely Josecito would come out running, looking for us, too, Mr. Flores told himself. But hours went by, and his heart sank. “I was waiting and waiting,” he said. “He wasn’t showing up.”

Eventually, as relieved parents collected their children and left for home, only Mr. Flores and a few others were left.

“At the end they were like, ‘Well, that’s it. All the buses have come,’” he recalled.

One of the other parents leaned on him and whispered, “You might want to go check at the hospital, because his teacher got shot,” he said.

He drove to the hospital and sprinted to the lobby. A doctor broke the unfathomable news. Josecito had been shot three times, including once on the side of the head. Officials were able to quickly identify him because his clothes — blue T-shirt, gray basketball shorts and gray Jordan sneakers — matched the outfit he was wearing in the awards photo he had taken just hours earlier.