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Angel Garza, Amerie’s father, explained to CNN’s Anderson Cooper that he was responding to the aftermath of the Uvalde, Texas, shooting as a medical aide when he began attending to a girl “covered in blood, head to toe.”
“I thought she was injured, I asked her what was wrong and she said she’s OK,” Garza told Cooper. “She was hysterical, saying that they shot her best friend, that they killed her best friend, she’s not breathing and she was trying to call the cops.”
Garza said he asked the young girl for her friend’s name. “She told me, she said Amerie,” he said, before breaking down and weeping on air.
“She was so sweet, Mr. Cooper,” a grief-stricken Garza said after an emotional pause in which he hugged a framed photo of his daughter. “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.”
“I just want to know what she did to be a victim,” said Garza as he continued to sob.
On Tuesday, Texas experienced the deadliest school shooting in its history when a gunman opened fire in an elementary school in Uvalde, killing at least 19 children, including Amerie.
The fourth grader’s final moments were nothing short of heroic. Amerie’s grandmother, Berlinda Arreola told The Daily Beast the student tried to call 911 on her cellphone before the 18-year-old gunman killed her.
“And instead of grabbing it and breaking it or taking it from her, he shot her,” Arreola said. “She was sitting right next to her best friend. Her best friend was covered in her blood.”
Amerie had just celebrated her birthday on May 10, Garza told Cooper. The phone was a birthday gift.
“She’d been wanting a phone for so long and we finally got it for her,” Garza said, then began to cry again. Garza said other students in the classroom confirmed that Amerie was trying to call the police.
“She just tried to call the police ... and I guess he just shot her,” he said through tears.
Garza paused and squeezed his photo of Amerie.
“How do you look at this girl and shoot her?” he said.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.