The McKinney community gathered Thursday night to grieve for those who died in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
As of Thursday, 19 students and two teachers are reported to have died after a gunman opened fire at the school on Tuesday. The husband of one of the teachers was also reported to have died Thursday morning of a heart attack.
On Thursday night, McKinney residents came together at Adriatica Village to remember the lives lost.
Vigil organizer Shelly Poe said she originally expected the event to include her, Mayor George Fuller and his wife, Maylee Thomas Fuller, and about 10 friends. The event quickly spread into something more.
Poe has two children, including one nine-year-old son.
"As I saw the names and the ages coming out, it just…it hit too close to home," she said.
The event served as a way to support grieving families in Uvalde in the wake of the tragedy.
"We want to stand with them in love and solidarity and try to somehow piece together some type of peace for these families and let them know we love them," Maylee Thomas Fuller said.
Mayor George Fuller spoke at the gathering.
"We come together to let heartbroken, devastated families in Uvalde know that hundreds of miles away, we, McKinney, we care. We feel their pain, their suffering, we agonize for their loss, and we’re here to honor their loved ones," he said. "But as we move forward in the days and weeks and months ahead, we know there must be change. And we all want change. And we also know that there are many different views on what that change looks like and what that path forward should or must be to stop such senseless devastation. But however hard it seems for us as a nation these days to come together on anything, that difficulty surely pales in comparison to the hard reality that causes us to come together today, and it most certainly pales in comparison to the pain and grief the families in Uvalde are feeling at this very moment."
McKinney ISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel also spoke at the vigil.
"As Mayor Fuller said, this is a time to love one another," McDaniel said. "It’s a time to care for one another. It’s a time to each out to a teacher and tell them how much you appreciate what they do. It’s certainly a time to hug your own kids."
McDaniel highlighted the role of teachers who work with children every day.
"Let this be about healing across our nation and where we hope to get at the end of all of this, and someday, hope that we can get past a set of circumstances in which kids will be afraid to actually go to school," he said. "I guarantee you from my seat as leader of McKinney ISD, we are doing all that we possibly can. We will continue to look and see if we can do more. But tonight it’s not about looking towards what we can do, it’s about honoring these victims of this circumstance."
The Love Life Foundation, founded by Maylee Thomas Fuller, has organized a Go Fund Me page that will benefit the Uvalde Community fundraising effort impacted by the tragedy. As of Thursday night, the page had raised over $14,000 and had a $100,000 goal. The page can be reached here.