UVALDE, Texas — Wednesday marked one year since the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde where 19 students and two teachers lost their lives.
Angela Velasquez remembers her best friend, teacher and shooting victim Eva Mireles, as someone who was like a sister. She said Mireles was a person who she shared her life milestones with.
Velasquez spoke in front of Mireles' mural near downtown Uvalde about how the hardest part about losing her was that she will never get another phone call from her.
"I would always tell her, 'hey, they're hiring you over here and they'll pay you more' and she'd say 'no I have my kiddos here," Velasquez said. "She was dedicated."
When Velasquez first met Mireles at a local gym, she didn't expect her to become a friend or family. Velasquez says she loved her friend so much, she trusted her with her life. She describes Mireles as her motivator and she pushed her to achieve life goals.
"When I see (the mural), it's a mural to some people and to me it's a memory," Velasquez said. "I had lost somebody dear to me and she helped me a lot through that."
The pair planned hiking trips together, and it was an image of Mireles climbing a mountain and holding two flags that her mural was based on.
"When she took that we made it up to the mountain and it was cloudy," Velasquez said. "I remember we were heading back down but I said let's wait a little bit. Then it got windy, the clouds moved and when they moved she said thank God we waited. She went and she got the flags."
Last year, the pair planned a trip to Manitou Springs, Colorado, for their next hike in July 2022. That’s when Velasquez realized a strange coincidence -- the hike was known as the state's "Stairway to Heaven".
"That was her pick, not mine and the funny thing about it is when I went to go do it I was crying the whole way up there," Velasquez said. "I was crying and crying and people kept stopping me and telling me you're gonna make it. They thought I was crying because I was struggling to get up there. I was struggling mentally."
To this day, Velasquez said she stays in contact with Mireles' family and has a new goal to live her life for her best friend.
"She was my hero before and she’ll always be my hero," Velasquez said. "It's funny because when we would be out there in the mountains, I'd always say we were Thelma and Louise."
As of Wednesday, May 24, every victim's mural has been completed and a memorial for them still stands at the school and Uvalde's downtown square.