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After at least 19 students at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, were killed on Tuesday morning, a family member of one of the killed children encourages parents across the country to keep their own children close, as they never know when it will be the last time.
“For everyone else who has children out here, cherish those moments just as your parents cherished you every day,” Benito Martinez, a family member of the deceased, told Fox News. “Tomorrow is not promised, so do it today.”
Martinez is the uncle of fourth-grader Xavier Lopez, 10, who was killed when an armed man broke into the school and fatally shot at least 19 children and two teachers.
“I’m still trying to process everything that’s going on,” he said in an interview with Fox News Digital.
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“You have no answer because you do not expect this kind of thing,” he added. “When you lose a loved one, especially a young loved one, it’s a whole different level.”
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Martinez and his own four children visited the school after the shooting to pray for the loss of the young Xavier and to pray for the others who lost loved ones.
“I believe in the power of prayer, especially in circumstances like this,” he said.
A visibly emotional Martinez recognized families throughout his community also mourned the loss of their own loved ones.
“I will pray, and I will keep them in my prayers as well,” he continued. “They grieve in the same way. You do not expect to take your children to school and think that today is the last day you will meet them.”
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Without naming the suspected gunman Salvador Ramos by name, Martinez said he took the “cowardly path” because he took the lives of “many innocent children”.
“My nephew was an odd child,” Martinez continued. “He loved to dance. He did not care.”
Martinez said he trusted his Christian faith and that he would meet his nephew again one day “in a better place.”
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Tuesday’s school shooting was the second deadliest in U.S. history, behind the Sandy Hook massacre when a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December 2012.
The shooting also came just four years after an armed man killed 17 students and injured 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, 2018.
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In the past two years, firearm-related deaths have become the leading cause of death for American children and adolescents, according to a research letter from the University of Michigan published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April, Reuters reported.
Fox News Paul Best contributed to this report.
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