After seven agonising hours of no news, Angel Garza of Uvalde, Texas, wrote a short post on Facebook, asking for help to find his 10-year-old daughter Amerie Jo. In the photo he shared, both father and daughter wore bright, identical smiles.

Three hours later he shared the heartbreaking news that little Amerie Jo had died in the gruesome shooting at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. She was among 19 children who were shot dead by an 18-year-old gunman identified as Salvador Rolando Ramos.

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Amerie Jo had turned 10 just weeks ago and was given a new phone as a birthday gift, CNN reported. Two students who were present in the school at the time of the shooting reportedly told Garza later that his daughter tried to use her phone to call for help.

Garza’s grief at losing his daughter was exacerbated by the way he found out about her death. He told CNN that he was responding to the incident as medical aid and met a girl clad in blood-stained clothes. 

The young girl told Garza that someone had shot her best friend in the school. “Amerie Jo”, the girl said when Garza asked the name of her best friend.

With every message on Facebook that the young father has posted is a broken heart. “Why,” he said in one, and “Ohhh my sweet baby I love you so much. I will never be happy or complete again,” in another, along with happy photographs of beautiful Amerie Jo. 

He told CNN that Amerie Jo’s younger brother has been asking about his sister, saying, “We informed him that his sister is now with God and she will no longer be with us.”

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Amerie Jo’s mother Kimberly Garcia wrote on Facebook, “You did not deserve this my sweet baby girl Mommy loves you, mommy can’t sleep without you. Mommy needs you, Amerie I can’t do this life without you. How am I supposed to live life without you? I will never understand. I love you and I’ll never be the same, ever again.”

“Hug your families a little tighter for our beautiful angel tonight,” said Angel Garcia, also thanking the hundreds of people who have reached out to express heartbreak and grief over the death of little Amerie Jo. “She was my hero,” he said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to cover the costs of Amerie Jo’s funeral. As of Wednesday night, more than $47,000 had been donated.