UVALDE, Texas (KXAN) — Third-grader Joevonni Gomez loves playing football with his friends.
He might want to be a football player when he grows up, or maybe start a company. Like many 9-year-olds, those dreams have yet to fully form.
But he’s already grappling with emotions even adults are trying to understand.
“It’s hard for all the parents that lost their kids,” Joevanni said as he sat in his front yard on Wednesday.
Just the day before, he was inside Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, when an announcement rang on the intercom.
“It said, ‘There is a active shooter on campus. Please go inside your classrooms,'” Joevanni recalled.
He and his classmates hid.
“We had to go like that,” he said, crouching down and putting his arms over his head. “In case if like … if the shooter, like, hits the window, and it comes flying in our classroom, it doesn’t hit us.”
The children had lots of questions.
“We were whispering, cause, like, we didn’t know what to do, like, we were just scared,” Joevonni recalled, wringing his hands. “Like what’s happening, and like why did this happen, and like, why is he doing this?”
But he said they did their best to comfort each other.
“We just like stood … stand next to each other, like sit next to each other and … we just hold on to each other, like hugging,” Joevanni remembered.
He said he was scared and still is.
“I’m just scared that, like, if I go back to school it’s going to happen again,” he said.
Right now, Joevonni can’t find the words for everything he’s feeling.
“I don’t know how to describe it, but [I] really scared and shaken up,” he said. “I’m just still scared about what happened yesterday.”
He knows one of the victims, Jayce Carmelo Luevanos.
“He showed me something, and then we started talking about it,” he said. “That’s the last memory I had.”
He’s grateful for his teachers, who protected him.
“They were standing in the door in case if the … if the shooter breaks in,” he said. “The teacher will block the bullets with their bodies, so we can run and save our lives.”
His parents said they know their little boy could have been a victim, too, and they’re thankful they get to hug and hold him.
“I was glad I made it,” Joevanni said.
Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District has set up a memorial fund with First State Bank for affected families, especially those with medical and funeral expenses.
“Please know that the FSB account, the information below, is the only verified location to make any monetary donations. No other source is currently recognized,” the district posted on its Facebook page.
The district said you can make all checks payable to the “Robb School Memorial Fund” and mail them to 200 E Nopal St. Uvalde, TX 78801.
There is also an option to send donations via Zelle, using the email firstname.lastname@example.org.