ABC News crew spends year in Uvalde, documents journey of survivors, families of shooting victims
NEW YORK (AP) — After most mass shootings that capture the public’s attention, national news organizations will send reporters for a few days, a week maybe, before moving on. There’s always another community, another tragedy.
ABC News tried something different after 19 elementary school students and two teachers were shot and killed in Uvalde, Texas, last May.
The journalists stayed.
For a year, ABC News kept a team in Uvalde. The result is a nuanced portrait of what happens over time to a suffering community, as seen in the two-hour documentary, “It Happened Here — A Year in Uvalde,” that airs Friday on ABC and Saturday on Hulu.
“What we discovered has been profoundly moving and inspiring and, we hope, useful,” said ABC News President Kim Godwin.
The story’s richness is in the details: There are the children’s rooms left undisturbed since May 24, 2022, the brush a parent can’t give up because it contains a dead girl’s hair, the survivor made upset by the sound of a block of ice being cracked, and the once-carefree boy who worries a lot. And we see a father who sits at his daughter’s grave each night to talk to her.
There are those who lived but deal every day with survivor’s guilt, and there’s the mother who torments herself for not letting her daughter come home with her after a morning awards assembly.
ABC’s idea was born out of a desire to bring something new to stories that have taken on a numbing familiarity.
“I don’t think that any community should be defined by a tragedy that befalls it,” said Cindy Galli, executive producer of ABC’s investigative unit.
A core team of about a dozen people were assigned to the project, a significant commitment at a time when ABC News, like many other news organizations, is cutting staff. The team, with reporters John Quinones, Maria Elena Salinas and Mireya Villarreal, rotated in and out depending on other assignments.
The project enabled the journalists to get to know community members and build trust by talking to them without cameras running all the time, she said.
“One of the aspects of being in a small community is that we would run into people at Starbucks or the grocery store,” Galli said. “They knew that we were there and knew that we were there for the long haul.”
That was important to families dealing with their grief, said Kimberly Rubio, whose daughter Lexi was killed in the attack. Rubio was featured in a segment early in the film, talking about how she uses time spent jogging to reflect upon what happened to her daughter.