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Vigil at AZ State Capitol honors students killed in Texas

Posted at 10:30 PM, May 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-26 01:34:54-04

PHOENIX — 19 pairs of small shoes circled a tree outside the Arizona State Capitol. Those shoes representing the 19 children killed in Texas Tuesday.

Several were in attendance at the vigil grieving and calling for change. While flags outside the state capitol fly at half-staff, faith leaders and lawmakers demand more to prevent gun violence.

Rep. Jennifer Longdon, D-Phoenix exclaimed at the vigil, “Our children don't bleed by democrat or republican. This is a bi-partisan problem, and we can fix it together. ‘Are you angry?’," she asks the crowd. "‘Yes!’," they reply. Longdon responds, "‘Then get to work!’”

Several dozen people are in attendance, including Leda Devlieger, a Gilbert third grade teacher visibly shaken by Tuesday’s events in Texas.

"I haven't stopped crying since,” says Devlieger. “I went to school this morning afraid of what my students might ask or say and they didn't say much."

Devlieger continues, "Some of them share names with my students. There was a little girl named Tess and I have a Tess in my classroom. Their faces, they're the same ages."

ABC15’s Christine Stanwood asks Devlieger: Why continue teaching?

Devlieger: This is hard for me to say, I actually, am leaving teaching this year.

After four years of being an educator, Devlieger says the main reason to step aside is finances but, "I would be lying if I didn't say that these other factors play into it. We're heroes one minute. Then people hate us the next minute."

Thursday will be her last day as an educator. "I've thought many times what would I do if somebody came to my room and you know, I would leave my kids motherless."

While many in our state call for gun control, there are two bills moving through the legislature, pushing for more gun rights. One would expand the places in which holders of concealed weapons permits can carry firearms. The other would allow permit holders to keep fully loaded guns in their cars on school campuses.

Both bills passed the House and a Senate committee but have not been brought up for a full vote in the Senate. Arizona Senate Democrats released a statement saying these bills should not move forward.