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Uvalde mom Evadulia Orta reflects on first Mother’s Day without son Rojelio



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    UVALDE, Texas (KTVT) — Evadulia Orta keeps the last Mother’s Day card she received from her son Rojelio tucked away in a box. Although she can still hold the cherished keepsake, what makes this upcoming holiday difficult are the things she can’t touch.

Her 10-year-old son was murdered, alongside 18 of his classmates and two teachers last year at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

“I’m not going to have a Mother’s Day card from him this year. I’m not going to have a hug from him. It’s going to be hard,” said Orta.

Her face lights up, a faint smile revealed as she describes Rojelio.

A playful, outgoing child, he loved Pokémon, board games, Lotería and playing football. Orta planned on signing him up for football over the summer, but “he didn’t get the chance.”

Described as loving life, always with a “smile on his face,” Orta said her son was eager to help others.

“He was a kind person. He loved to help people. His family… me… He helped me a lot,” she shared.

Orta, who said her mother and grandmother are strong women, remains steadfast for her surviving children, Federico, 11, and Mary, who was only six years old when Rojelio was murdered.

“She knows he’s not here anymore, but she still asks me when he’s coming home. I tell her ‘He’s not coming home, he’s in Heaven looking down on you. He’s taking care of you, taking care of all of us,’ ” said Orta.

Both children are in counseling.

“My son takes it harder than I do. He was very close to my son.”

Orta said the family might spend Mother’s Day visiting Rojelio’s gravesite.

“This gives us peace to know that he’s there and we can talk to him,” said Orta, who’s also talking to legislators — loudly.

“We’re going to keep on talking. And we’re not going to stop fighting until justice is done and they pick up the age limit. We’re fighting for our kids, and we’re fighting for the kids that are still here,” she shared.

The 18-year-old who murdered Rojelio bought the weapon he used in the May 24, 2022 massacre shortly after turning 18.

Orta has pushed for the passage of House Bill 2744, which raises the age from 18 to 21 to purchase some semi-automatic rifles.

Filed this session, the House Community Safety Select committee advanced the ‘Raise the Age’ gun bill on May 8, sending it to the full chamber. It was a move, which surprised many gun reform activists. However, the next day, The House Committee on Calendars, which schedules bills for a vote, didn’t place it on the legislative calendar for members to consider.

Many Uvalde families were at the Capitol alongside the group Moms Demand Action, a grassroots movement fighting for public safety measures to protect people from gun violence. They chanted “raise the age!”

The bill, which needs 76 votes to pass, still faces opposition from many Republicans, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

On the same day the bill advanced to chamber, Abbott held a news conference on border security. CBS News Texas asked the governor for a response to Texans who are frustrated with the prevalence of mass shootings.

“I believe in the coming days the public will be much better informed about why and how this happened, that will inform us as Texas leaders about next steps to take to try to prevent crimes like this from taking place in the future,” said Abbott.

Following the Uvalde shooting, Abbott told victims’ families he wouldn’t support their pleas for gun safety legislation; suggesting that raising the age to own an assault weapon was unconstitutional. Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican, later said proposals to raise the minimum required age for certain firearms and other gun measures didn’t get enough votes to pass.

Dallas Democratic state Rep. Rafael Anchía supports the bill, and has said gun legislation could potentially save lives.

For years in Texas, many Republicans have moved aside efforts to tighten gun laws after mass shootings, and even expanded gun rights after the 2019 attack on a Walmart in El Paso. The gunman in that shooting killed 23 people.

The issue of gun safety isn’t just top of mind for Orta. It ranks high in the minds of many Texans, who have said it should take top priority in the legislature.

On May 3, a new University of Texas poll revealed that 76% of Texas voters support raising the age to buy a gun from 18 to 21, including 64% of Republican voters.

“This isn’t some sort of Democrats versus Republicans thing. People from all over Texas and across America just want to be safe from gun violence,” state Senator Roland Gutierrez said in part in a release sent to CBS News Texas.

Even if the full House debates HB2744, it faces an uphill climb given the Republican majority. If it does pass, the bill would then goes to the Senate where it will face an even steeper climb.

Orta has also called for more police accountability after hundreds of law enforcement officers waited more than an hour to breach the fourth-grade classroom and confront the shooter.

“I blame the officers that were there that day that didn’t go into the classroom to help my kid… Help our kids and the teachers that we lost. We’re still in shock that they didn’t go in right away to save our children,” she said. “It was like yesterday that it happened for us. Every day feels like that.”

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