Vigil, butterfly release among events to mark the 2nd anniversary of the Uvalde school shooting

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UVALDE, Texas (AP) — The 19 fourth-graders and two teachers killed at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, are being remembered as the second anniversary of the one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history is marked.

“They should still be with us — playing sports, creating art, dancing, laughing, learning, teaching, and making new memories with their families and friends,” Vice President Kamala Harris said in a statement. “Today, we are remembering their stories, standing with their loved ones, and thinking of their community.”

Community members are set to gather Friday evening at a vigil to remember those killed on May 24, 2022, when a teenage gunman burst into classrooms at Robb Elementary School and began shooting. Other events have included a bell ringing and butterfly release at a local church.

Earlier this week, the families of 19 of the victims filed a $500 million federal lawsuit against nearly 100 state police officers who were part of the botched law enforcement response to the shooting. The families said they also agreed to a $2 million settlement with the city, under which city leaders promised higher standards and better training for local police.

The federal lawsuit is the latest of several seeking accountability for the law enforcement response. More than 370 federal, state and local officers converged on the scene, but they waited more than 70 minutes before confronting the shooter.

Terrified students inside the classroom called 911 as agonized parents begged officers — some of whom could hear shots being fired while they stood in a hallway — to go in. A tactical team of officers eventually went into the classroom and killed the shooter.

Javier Cazares, the father of slain 9-year-old Jackie Cazares, said during a news conference announcing the lawsuit and settlement on Wednesday: “It’s been an unbearable two years. … No amount of money is worth the lives of our children. Justice and accountability has always been my main concern.”

It is the first lawsuit to be filed after a 600-page Justice Department report was released in January that catalogued “cascading failures” in training, communication, leadership and technology problems that day.

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