Uwalde, Texas, USA Tracey Colton doesn’t know what to say.
“Family members come to us to pick up photos of their deceased children,” said the 47-year-old manager of a Walgreens pharmacy in downtown Uvalde. “What will you tell them? You can’t do anything.”
Colton usually greets shoppers by saying, “Good morning, welcome to Walgreens. How are you today?”
But that’s just not the sort of thing you can say anymore, Colton told Al Jazeera just days after 19 fourth graders and two teachers were gunned down at Robb Elementary School in the close-knit Texas town in the school’s deadliest shooting ever. decade in the USA.
“I hugged my parents when they came,” Colton said. “I just cried with them”
The store was busy, as usual, she added, but almost quiet. “So quiet. It’s just so quiet.”
The Colton situation is one small example of how the tragedy has changed the lives of the residents of this small, predominantly Hispanic town, where everyone seems to know someone personally affected by the tragedy.
Heartache is felt everywhere.
On Thursday, residents say it’s another heartbreaking example of the impact the shooting has had on residents: Joe Garcia died of a heart attack. His wife, Irma Garcia, 24, was one of two teachers killed at Robb’s elementary school two days earlier.
According to Colton, the aftermath of the shooting takes an emotional toll on everyone in Uvald. “It’s an emotional burden on all of our employees.”
The company’s thoughts are for all concerned, Walgreens senior director of external relations Fraser Engerman said in an email to Al Jazeera.
“We offer consulting services and other assistance to our team members in Uvalde, where we have a shop very close to the school. We also work closely with the local community to donate supplies and offer assistance to families. [affected]’, Engerman wrote.
It’s such a small community, everyone grew up with someone involved in the tragedy, Colton said. “That’s why I’m so glad that Walgreens employees from other stores … are coming to the rescue,” she said.
Dozens of Walgreens employees from stores elsewhere in Texas came to town to help, Colton said, and Uvalde Walgreens employees were able to take time off from work to be with loved ones and grieve.
The workers came from San Antonio, New Braunfels, Laredo and Eagle Pass, said Aimee Lusson, director of drugstores and retail stores at Walgreens South Texas.
“We just got an outpouring of support — people from as far away as Dallas and Fort Worth. We had a lot of people who said I could come right now,” said Lusson, who traveled from San Antonio to Uvalde.