Salvador Ramos was the gunman in the horrific shooting at the Uvalde elementary school. His body went unclaimed for three-and-a-half weeks because local funeral homes would not accept him from the county morgue while his family fought over his remains.
Ramos, 18, killed in cold blood 19 children and two teachers in a small town in Texas on May 24.
After the shooting, the town’s two funeral homes, Rushing-Estes-Knowles, and Hillcrest Memorial, were overrun dealing with the funerals of Ramos’s victims. And they certainly did not want to be known in the community for accepting the shooter’s body or causing any more trauma for the grieving families.
The body of Ramos was ultimately cremated in San Antonia, which is 83 miles away from Uvalde. And it took place almost a month after his terrible crime.
“All of our staff grew up in Uvalde County and attended school in Uvalde County and believe that everyone deserves a dignified and respectful funeral service,” said Taylor Michelle Massey, managing funeral director at Rushing-Estes-Knowles.
“However, in the weeks following the shootings of May 24th, we were caring for 17 families through what is probably the most difficult time in their lives,” she told The Houston Chronicle.
Massey went further saying that they did not feel it was appropriate or “in the best interest of the families for which we were caring to take custody of the remains of the individual that caused their pain.”
The coroner for Uvalde, Eulalia “Lalo” Diaz, Jr., said that it was stressful trying to find a funeral home that would accept the body of Ramos. He told the press that the Bexar County Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy on Ramos’ body on May 27. This was three days after he was shot and killed by the police during the attack.
Diaz was responsible for trying to find a way to dispose of the body. The local funeral homes all denied accepting it, so Diaz had to scramble to find a morgue. He finally reached an agreement with one in Lockhart, which is 165 miles away.
“I had to store him for three weeks,” Diaz said.
“As the funerals for the victims were going on, I was still dealing with what to do with him. It was a stressful time.”
The family of Ramos struggled to know what to do. The young man also shot his maternal grandmother, Celia Martinez Gonzales who was 66 years old. He shot her in the face just before going to school. She survived and was released from the hospital in June.
“It took three, three and a half weeks to get him released to the family,” Diaz told the Chronicle. “They were fighting with each other.”
Ramos was eventually cremated at Crown Cremation Center on the western edge of downtown San Antonio, 85 miles from Uvalde, according to his death report.
Castle Ridge in Crystal City, 40 miles south of Uvalde, took responsibility for Ramos’ funeral arrangements, Diaz said.
According to Diaz, it could take up to a year for the Bexar County Medical Examiner to complete the autopsy reports for Ramos and his 21 victims. This is partly because the Bexar County medical examiner also has to conduct 53 autopsies for the immigrants who died while being smuggled in a tractor-trailer in late June.
“That’s 75 extra people added to their normal workload,” Diaz said. “We’re three months in, and all I’ve got is the preliminary reports.”
The Uvalde shooting at Robb Elementary School was the second-deadliest school shooting in the history of the United States. There are ongoing investigations into the way this tragedy was handled by law enforcement.