Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Tragedy now overshadows Uvalde, a small town growing in population

Police walk near Robb Elementary School following the shooting.
Dario Lopez-Mills
Police walk near Robb Elementary School following the shooting.

The small town of Uvalde, Texas, is a place where Friday night football rules, and its claim to fame is being the hometown of actor Matthew McConaughey.

It's not a place where tightknit locals expected to face a school shooting that has left at least 14 children and a teacher dead.

The news of the shooting, which began late Tuesday morning, sent the community scrambling for answers, said Marc Duvoisin, editor-in-chief of the nearby San Antonio Express-News.

"I could see a local real estate agent or the head of the refrigerator repair company sharing information about a brother or relatives who work at the school or who work at the hospital," he said.

"It's a place where interconnections like that are thick, and there was enormous anxiety. And prayers were being shared on social media as people who knew each other or had connections were coming together."

He said local police appeared to still be in shock.

Uvalde had seen a lot of population growth in the last couple of years, Duvoisin said.

"A lot of people moved in from other states, drawn to the kind of scenic beauty and the small-town feel of Uvalde, and hardly expecting to confront something like this at their local school," he said.

Uvalde has a population of about 15,000 people, more than 80% of whom identify as Hispanic or Latino, according todata from the U.S. Census Bureau. And about 1 in 5 lives below the poverty line.

The town sits about 80 miles outside San Antonio and about 70 miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border and is just a regular and usually peaceful town, said local reporter Brian Kirkpatrick.

"Uvalde is one of those typical Texas towns that largely revolves around Friday night football. There's a lot of civic pride for your Friday night football games," he said. "These kinds of towns are very close-knit because of that, and that includes their schools — they're a central part of the community."

"So when something happens to a school, it really affects everybody here because a lot of folks that grow up here, you know, live and die here. So it's that kind of connected community."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

Jonathan Franklin is a digital reporter on the News desk covering general assignment and breaking national news.