PICTURED: Customized caskets featuring basketballs, musical notes, Pokemon and the TikTok logo being made for victims of the Texas school massacre
- Trey Ganem, owner of Soul Shine Industries, has made customized caskets for 18 of the 19 children killed in Uvalde and one of the two adults
- Ganem’s caskets usually cost around $3,400 but he has given them to the families for free
- Ganem and his son Billy have worked around the clock at his Edna, Texas, base to get the caskets made in time
- They have had volunteers travel from as far as Corpus Christi, Texas, to help paint, sand, and apply vinyl to the child-size caskets
- Relatives have requested TikTok logos, slime, dinosaurs and llamas on their loved ones’ caskets
- On Tuesday the first funeral was held, for Amerie Jo Garza, 10 – one of the first to be killed, murdered while calling 911 to get help for her friends
- Eleven more funerals will be held this week for the 21 victims, with the rest taking place next week
Customized caskets bearing images of dinosaurs, llamas, slime, the TikTok logo, basketballs, musical notes and pickles have been delivered to Uvalde, as the tragic task of burying the dead from last week’s school shooting begins.
The coffins have been made by a Texas businessman, Trey Ganem, whose company Soul Shine Industries specializes in personalized caskets.
Ganem normally charges $3,400 for the caskets, but has donated them to the families of the 19 children and two teachers murdered at Robb Elementary School on May 24.
He was asked to make 18 of the 19 caskets for the children, and one of the two adult coffins.
Members of the Soul Shine Industries team are seen making a special casket for a victim of the Uvalde massacre, with the TikTok logo and basketballs
Trey and Bill Ganem and their team of volunteers worked around the clock to get the caskets ready
One of the caskets appeared to have yellow Pokemon writing on the side
A blue and a pink casket, made by Ganem’s team, are pictured awaiting delivery to Uvalde
A casket featuring musical notes and theatre masks is seen in Ganem’s warehouse, ready for delivery to Uvalde
Trey Ganem, 50, was initially contacted by the Texas Funeral Directors’ Association
Ganem, 50, told BuzzFeed that he was contacted initially by someone at the Texas Funeral Directors’ Association, asking for help. The death toll was unclear, but it was apparent that there had been a horrific tragedy.
‘I think there were 17 at the time that he knew of, and he wanted to know if I would be able to help out and make sure that all these kids have, you know, some personalization,’ said Ganem.
His company, based in Edna, Texas, does not keep a large stockpile of small caskets, and so he had to order them from a Georgia-based company.
Ganem told BuzzFeed that the manufacturer worked for 20 hours straight to get the orders out on time, and then Ganem’s friend Bubba Hoffman hired a Texas trucking company to make the 26-hour trip from Texas to Georgia, to collect the caskets, and then back to Texas.
The delivery arrived at 2am on Friday, and Ganem and his son Billy Ganem worked nonstop, getting only a couple of hours of sleep – with the help of around a dozen people, who volunteered to help – some driving to their workshop from Corpus Christi, 100 miles away.
‘We’re here to try to make a hard time a little easier,’ said Billy Ganem, 25.
Trey Ganem (right) enlisted a team to help make the 19 coffins for the victims
‘There’s nothing we can really ever do to make it easier, but that’s our goal: to help the families start their grieving and their healing and just try to make something special for them.’
By Saturday, Ganem’s crew began making the first 220 mile trip to Uvalde, to begin the delivery.
‘It has been an extremely emotional roller coaster for me,’ Ganem said.
‘I don’t even know if you can hear my voice.
‘I haven’t hollered at all, but I’m losing my voice, for whatever reason.’
Eliahana Torres’s mother said she thought about all the things her 10-year-old daughter loved: llamas, TikTok’s logo, and a splash of neon yellow slime, which also symbolized her passion for softball.
‘She would tell me that she needed glue for school because she had a big ole project to do, and the glue would be to make slime,’ said Sandra Torres, her mother.
‘She drove us crazy with the TikTok.’
Ganem said the requests had been touching, and amusing.
‘There was one that wanted dinosaurs, with flashlights, holding a pickle,’ he said.
On Tuesday the first funeral was held, as the reeling, close-knit community braces itself for 20 further farewells.
Amerie Garza had just been named to the honor roll when she was murdered. On Tuesday her funeral service was held in Uvalde
Amerie Jo Garza, 10, was laid to rest on Tuesday afternoon following a Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic church, a 114-year-old church about a mile from the elementary school where she was murdered.
Her stepfather, Angel Garza, a medic, dashed to the school on hearing the news of the active shooter, and saw a 10-year-old girl covered in blood. He asked what had happened, and was told it was not her blood but that of her best friend Amerie – his daughter.
Amerie had called 911, it later emerged, and the gunman, on hearing her call, shot her.
‘I just want people to know she died trying to save her classmates,’ her stepfather said. ‘She just wanted to save everyone.’
Pallbearers are seen lifting the casket of Amerie outside the Sacred Heart Catholic Church on Tuesday
Amerie’s funeral was the first of 11 to take place in Uvalde this week
Angel Garza, pictured with Amerie in an undated photo, told CNN on Wednesday: ‘How do you look at this girl and shoot her? Oh, my baby. How do you shoot my baby?’
Angel Garza wept outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, as he told Anderson Cooper of the horrifying moment he found out his stepdaughter was dead – while trying to provide medical assistance to a 10-year-old covered in the girl’s blood
On Friday, Amerie was posthumously awarded the Bronze Cross by the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, her grandmother, Berlinda Arreola, said.
The national award is reserved for Girl Scouts who show ‘extraordinary heroism’ or risk their lives to save another’s.
Many of the mourners who packed into the church on Tuesday were dressed in lilac and lavender – the favorite colors of a little girl who dreamed of growing up to be an art teacher.
The church was decorated with pots of lavender, and her casket was gray with lilac.
‘Amerie Jo Garza was a kind, caring, blunt, loving, sweet, sassy and of course funny little diva who ‘hated dresses’ but nonetheless; she truly had a heart of gold,’ her family said.
Garza described Amerie as ‘the sweetest little girl’ who was a good student and always well-behaved for her family.
A young girl is seen arriving for Amerie’s funeral with a drawing done in her honor
The tribute to Amerie reads: ‘Forever gone but never forgotten’
Mourners arrive at the church ahead of Amerie’s funeral on Tuesday
Many of those who arrived at the church were wearing lilac – Amerie’s favorite color
Some of those attending wore t-shirts in her favorite color, made in tribute to the 10-year-old
Amerie, who had just celebrated her tenth birthday, used her new cell phone to call 911 during the massacre but was shot dead while sitting next to her best friend
Her mother, Kimberly Garcia, took to Facebook to address the family’s loss, saying it is incomprehensible
‘I just want to know what she did to be a victim,’ he said the day after her death.
‘She was so sweet… she was the sweetest little girl who did nothing wrong.
‘She listened to her mom and dad, she always brushed her teeth, she was creative, she made things for us, she never got in trouble in school.’
After the Mass, Amerie’s procession continued to Hillcrest Memorial cemetery.
A few hundred had gathered for a short burial ceremony: when it was over, her family released white dove-shaped balloons into the wind.
Amerie loved pizza, Chick-fil-A and swimming, her family said.
She kissed her three-year-old brother, Zayne, every morning before she left for school. Last year, she was given the school’s ‘Heart of Gold’ award — and this year, she made honor roll.
The day after her death, her mother, Kimberly Garcia, posted a picture of Amerie holding up a certificate in recognition of joining the A-B honor roll.
‘You did not deserve this my sweet baby girl,’ her mother wrote. ‘Mommy needs you, Amerie I can’t do this life without you.’
This week alone there will be 11 funerals.
On Tuesday evening, the funeral of 10-year-old Maite Rodriguez will be held.
‘She loved animals,’ her cousin, Destiny Esquivel, told CNN’s Adrienne Broaddus on Monday.
Maite wanted to be a marine biologist.
‘She was determined. She was smart. She was going to be someone.’
PICTURED: The 19 children and two teachers butchered in Texas elementary school shooting
Amerie Jo Garza, 10
Amerie Jo Garza (right)
Amerie Jo Garza, a fourth grader at Robb Elementary, was one of 19 students confirmed to be killed Tuesday morning by Ramos, who cops say was carrying a handgun and an AR-15 during the attack that also killed two teachers in the classroom.
Her grandmother, Berlinda Irene Arreola, said the 10-year-old was killed as she tried to phone 911 while sitting next to her best friend, who ended up ‘covered in her blood.’
Arreola said Ramos told the students and staffers inside the room, ‘You’re going to die,’ before opening fire – shooting her granddaughter dead as she tried to phone for help.
‘So the gunman went in and he told the children, ‘You’re going to die,’ Berlinda told The Daily Beast.
‘And [Amerie] had her phone and she called 911. And instead of grabbing it and breaking it or taking it from her, he shot her. She was sitting right next to her best friend. Her best friend was covered in her blood.’
Uziyah Garcia, 8
Uziyah Garcia, the youngest victim at age eight, was also killed in the attack.
The child’s family announced he was killed hours after announcing he was among the many children unaccounted for following the tragedy.
The boy’s grandfather, Manny Renfro, broke the news early Wednesday after being notified by authorities.
‘[He was] the sweetest little boy that I’ve ever known,’ Renfro said. ‘I’m not just saying that because he was my grandkid.’
Renfro recalled how Uziyah last visited him in San Angelo over spring break.
‘We started throwing the football together and I was teaching him pass patterns.
‘Such a fast little boy and he could catch a ball so good,’ the grieving grandad said.
‘There were certain plays that I would call that he would remember and he would do it exactly like we practiced.’
Makenna Elrod, 10
Makenna Lee Elrod
Makenna Elrod, 10, had also been among the missing in the chaos that followed the massacre, with her father, Brandon Elrod telling reporters at the time he feared ‘she may not be alive.’
Her death was eventually confirmed by a family friend on Wednesday. ‘It’s pretty sad what this world’s coming to,’ the girl’s father told local outlet KTRK after the shooting.
A mother of one of Makenna’s friends lamented the loss in a post to Facebook.
‘Sweet Makenna Rest in Paradise!! My heart is shattered as my daughter Chloe loved her so much!!’ the mom wrote. A relative Wednesday confirmed that the girl had been among the victims.
Xavier Lopez, 10
Xavier Lopez, 10, was the first student victim to be identified as one of Ramos’ victims.
The child’s mother, Felicha Martinez, told the Washington Post Tuesday that just hours before the massacre, the mom had been at the school to see her son participate an honor roll ceremony.
She took a picture showing her son showing off his certificate.
In the last exchange she had with the child, the mom heartbreakingly told the boy that she was proud of him and that she loved him, giving him a hug goodbye – not knowing it would be the last time she would see him alive.
‘He was funny, never serious and his smile… that smile I will never forget,’ she recalled after learning of his death from police. ‘It would always cheer anyone up.’
The boy’s cousin, Lisa Garza, 54, of Arlington, said Xavier enjoyed swimming and had been looking forward to the summer.
‘He was just a loving 10-year-old little boy, just enjoying life, not knowing that this tragedy was going to happen today,’ she said.
‘He was very bubbly, loved to dance with his brothers, his mom. This has just taken a toll on all of us.’
Amelia Sandoval, Lopez’s grandmother, said: ‘It’s just so hard… you send your kids to school thinking they are going to make it back home but they’re not.’
Eliahana Torres, 10
Eliahana Cruz Torres
Eliahana Cruz Torres, 10, had also been missing for hours until she was confirmed to be among the dead.
Adolfo Cruz, her great-grandfather, said she didn’t want to attend school the day of the shooting – but was told by her family that she had to attend.
He said he remained outside the school gates throughout the night until he leanrned of her fate from local authorities.
‘I hope she is alive,’ he said at the time.
Torres was an avid baseball player and played the sport in a local little league.
Ellie Lugo, 10
Ellie Lugo was named as a victim of Tuesday’s attack by her parents, with Steven Garcia and Jennifer Lugo confirming her death several hours after she was listed among the missing.
‘It’s hard to issue out a statement on anything right now my mind is going at 1000 miles per hour… but I do wanna send our thoughts and prayers to those who also didn’t make it home tonight!!! Our Ellie was a doll and was the happiest ever,’ Steven Lugo said Wednesday.
‘Mom and Dad love you never forget that and please try and stay by our side.’
Nevaeh Bravo, 10
Nevaeh Bravo was confirmed to be among the dead late Tuesday, after her cousin posted on social media following the shooting to ask for helping the girl.
Around 9 pm, she broke the news on Twitter.
‘Unfortunately my beautiful Nevaeh was one of the many victims from todays tragedy,’ she wrote.
Sje said the schoolchild was ‘flying high’ and asked for the family to be kept in people’s prayers
‘Our Nevaeh has been found. She is flying with the angels above. We love you Navaeh very much princess.’
‘Thank you for the support and help,’ she wrote. ‘Rest in peace my sweet girl, you didn’t deserve this.’
Bravo’s age could not immediately be confirmed.
Tess Marie Mata
Tess Marie Mata
Tess Marie Mata was also among those to perish in the attack, her sister, Faith Mata, revealed in a post to Facebook Wednesday.
‘I honestly have no words just sadness, confusion, and anger,’ she wrote.
‘I’m sad because we will never get to tag team on mom and dad again and tell each other how much we mean to each other, I’m confused because how can something like this happen to my sweet, caring, and beautiful sister, and I’m angry because a coward took you from us.’
Photos shared with the post showed Tess smiling in a baby photo, snuggling with a cat, doing gymnastics, flashing a peace sign, and posing in front of a large heart mural.
‘Sissy I miss you so much, I just want to hold you and tell you how pretty you are, I want to take you outside and practice softball, I want to go on one last family vacation, I want to hear your contagious laugh, and I want you to hear me tell you how much I love you,’ she wrote.
Her age could not immediately be confirmed.
Rojelio Torres, 10
Rojelio Torres, 10, was initially reported missing by his father, but on Wednesday was confirmed dead by his family.
A person who said she was the boy’s cousin wrote on Twitter: ‘It breaks my heart to say my rojelio is now with the angels I’ll forever miss you and love you my angel.’
The child’s father , Federico Torres, told Houston reporters that he was at work when he learned about the shooting and immediately raced to the school.
‘They sent us to the hospital, to the civic center, to the hospital and here again, nothing, not even in San Antonio,’ he said. ‘They don’t tell us anything, only a photo, wait, hope that everything is well.’
Nearly half a day later, cops broke the news to the boy’s family.
‘Our entire family waited almost 12 hours since the shooting to find out Rojelio Torres, my 10-year-old nephew, was killed in this tragedy,’ Torres’ aunt, Precious Perez, told KSAT. ‘We are devastated and heartbroken. Rojer was a very intelligent, hard-working and helpful person. He will be missed and never forgotten.’
Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10
Jayce Luevanos, 10, died in the shooting along with his ten-year-old cousin, Jailah, the child’s mother said Wednesday.
In a Facebook post, uncle Unberto Gonzalez shared photos of both kids while offering a touching tribute.
‘My babies going to miss them like crazy!!!,’ Gonzalez wrote. ‘We luv y’all so much!!! I’m just lost right now!!! Fly high my beautiful Angels!!’
Jailah Nicole Silguero, 10
Jailah Nicole Silguero
Ten-year-old Jailah Nicole Silguero was also killed in the shooting, her mother, Veronica Luevanos, tearfully revealed to Univision Wednesday.
She also lost her 10-year-old nephew Jayce to the tragedy.
She said Jailah loved to dance and film videos on TikTok.
The child reportedly also asked her mom the morning of the shooting if she could stay home from school – a request the now mourning mom rebuffed.
‘I took her to school, but she didn’t want to go. She told her father, ‘Can I stay home?” Luevanos said, noting that it was not a common occurrence for her daughter to make such a request. ‘I think she knew something would happen.’
Luevanos’ mom confirmed the loss on Facebook Wednesday.
‘Fly high my angels. We’re going to miss yall so much,’ wrote Veronica Luevanos – whose dad had died just a week earlier.
‘I’m so heart broken,’ she wrote with a photo of her daughter and nephew.
‘My baby I love u so much … fly high baby girl.’
Alithia Ramirez, 10
Fourth grader Alithia Ramirez was confirmed dead early Wednesday by her father, Ryan Ramirez, who shared a post to Facebook showing the 10-year-old with angel’s wings. He had used the same photo the previous day as he pleaded for help finding her after the massacre
He had heartbreakingly used the same photo the previous day as he desperately pleaded for help finding her after the massacre.
‘Trying to find my daughter Alithia. I called all the hospitals and nothing,’ he wrote at the time.
He also reporters during his frantic search, ‘I’m trying to find out where my baby’s at.’
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10, was another killed by Ramos Tuesday – along with her cousin, who has yet to be identified.
Annabell’s father spent the afternoon after the shooting in frantic search for his daughter.
Speaking to KHOU11 Tuesday, he lamented at how he was at a loss as to what do, having little success with the search.
‘They’re not letting us in at the hospital right now so we don’t know where to go.’
She has since been declared to be among the dead.
Miranda Mathis, 11
Miranda Mathis, 11, was also confirmed as another casualty from the mass shooting early Wednesday, in a Facebook post by an older cousin who earlier that day had posted a desperate plea for help in locating the child.
‘My sweet baby cousin we loved u dearly,’ Deanna Miller wrote alongside a photo of the child with angel wings.
‘I’m so sorry this happen to u baby please keep my family in your prayers,’ she grieved.
Miller’s kids had also been at the school at the time of the shooting, but survived the attack.
One of her sons told her that they were ushered out of a window by staffers during the attack and subsequently ran to a nearby funeral home after ‘he heard the shooter say he was gonna kill all the kids.’
Alexandria ‘Lexi’ Aniyah Rubio, 10
Alexandria Aniyah Rubio
Alexandria Aniyah Rubio – who was better known to friends as ‘Lexi’ – was confirmed dead just before midnight on Tuesday.
The ten-year-old was shot dead just hours after posing for a photo with her parents at the school’s honor roll ceremony.
Kimberly Mata-Rubio, the girl’s mother, wrote of the loss: ‘My beautiful, smart, Alexandria Aniyah Rubio was recognized today for All-A honor roll. She also received the good citizen award. We told her we loved her and would pick her up after school. We had no idea this was goodbye.’
Maite Yuleana was another student to die in the attack that had attended the honor roll ceremony just hours before.
A cousin of the girl’s mother, Ana Rodriguez, announced the loss Wednesday.
‘It is with a heavy heart I come on here on behalf of my cousin Ana who lost her sweet baby girl in yesterday’s senseless shooting.
‘We are deeply saddened by the lose [sic] of this sweet smart little girl…. God bless and may she R.I.P Maite Rodriguez we love you.’
Another relative shared a photo of Maite with her honor roll certificate.
Her age could not immediately be confirmed.
Jose Flores Jr, 10
Jose Flores, 10, was also killed in the shooting after attending the honor roll ceremony, where he was pictured triumphantly clutching a certificate celebrating the accomplishment.
Uncle Christopher Salazar confirmed to the Washington Post Wednesday that his 10-year-old nephew was among the dead, after sharing a tribute to the child on Facebook.
‘I love you and I miss you,’ Salazar wrote in the post.
The boy’s father described Jose to CNN as an amazing boy and big brother to his two younger siblings.
‘He was always fill of energy,’ Jose Flores Sr. said. ‘Ready to play till the night.’
He said the boy loved playing baseball and video games.
Jackie Cazares, 10
Jackie Cazares, 10, was another to be killed during the vicious attack at the elementary school.
Her father Jacinto confirmed she lost her life inside her fourth-grade classroom.
‘My baby girl has been taken away from my family and I,’ the grieving father said in an online post.
‘We’re devastated in ways I hope no one ever goes through. … It hurts us to our souls.’
Cazares said his daughter, who was with her cousin, Annabell Rodriguez, when she died, was ‘full of life and love’.
Layla Salazar, 10
The 10-year-old student was the last of the slaying victims to be identified.
Vincent Salazar told the Philadelphia Inquirer his young daughter was among those killed.
He said she was ‘a lot of fun’ and recalled how they sang along to ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ by Guns ‘n’ Roses whenever he drove her to school.
Irma Garcia, 46 – fourth grade teacher
Irma Garcia, who co-taught with Mireles for the last five year, had been at Robb Elementary for 23 years.
Married to Joe for 24 years, she was a mother of four – Cristian, completing Marine boot camp; Jose, attending Texas State university University; Lyliana, a sophomore in high school; and Alysandra, a 7th grader.
‘My tia did not make it, she sacrificed herself protecting the kids in her classroom, i beg of you to keep my family including all of her family in y’all’s prayers , IRMA GARCIA IS HER NAME and she died a HERO,’ tweeted her nephew John.
‘She was loved by many and will truly be missed.’
She was nominated as teacher of the year for the 2018-19 awards, organized by Trinity University.
Eva Mireles, 44 – fourth grade teacher
Eva Mireles, a fourth grade teacher, was identified by her family as being one of the staff members shot dead. She had worked in education for 17 years.
Her husband Ruben Ruiz, a veteran detective and SWAT team member currently serving as a police officer with the school district, held regular active shooter drills for the schools – most recently at the end of March.
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