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From Uvalde to Austin: Parent of Robb Elementary victim pushes for gun control

Brett Cross, Uziyah Garcia's father, traveled to the Texas State Capitol weekly to remind legislators of his son.

UVALDE, Texas — One year ago, Brett Cross waited hours at Uvalde's civic center for updates about his son, Uziyah Garcia.

"We waited. They kept bringing in buses full of kids and Uzi never got off," said Cross.

He is one of 21 families who never got to hold their loved ones again. On May 24, 2022, 19 children and two teachers were killed by a gunman at Robb Elementary School.

Cross saw and experienced the overwhelming news coverage of Uziyah's death. He watched as details unfolded about the mass shooting. 

"I don't believe in perfect anymore," Cross said.

Since the massacre, Cross is continuously disappointed by systemic failures that cost the life of his son. Present at the school were 376 law enforcement officers, and it took 77 minutes for them to enter the classroom. An 18-year-old fired 1,657 rounds of ammunition with two AR-15 semi-automatic rifles. 

Those are statistics, but Uziyah was not. 

"He isn't a number. He is Uzi. And he was everything," said Cross.

The crowds and coverage following the shooting have come and gone. The Uvalde Town Square, last year, filled with thousands of visitors, is quiet today. But for Cross, it means he needs to raise his voice louder, so people do not forget about Uziyah, his classmates and teachers.

On Tuesdays during the 88th legislative session in Austin, Cross made a weekly three-hour drive to the Texas State Capitol. He supports more than 21 bills announced in the aftermath of the Uvalde mass shooting.

Only one Uvalde bill has been heard in committee. On April 18, House Bill 2744 was on the schedule. The bill would raise the purchase age of semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21. Cross and other families from Uvalde waited 14 hours to testify in support of HB 2744. 

"Your thoughts and prayers haven't done anything in the 329 days since Uziyah was shot through his stomach, exiting his spine," Cross told the committee.

Cross wants legislators to know him, because they will never get the chance to know Uziyah.

Three weeks later on May 9, the efforts of Uvalde parents seemed promising. HB 2744 unexpectedly passed through the committee. However, the bill did not make it on the Texas House Agenda and will fail this session. 

For Cross, it means he will be back in Austin until there is gun reform.

"It's another day without him," said Cross.

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