As President Biden’s motorcade sped past Mario and Agnes Quintanilla’s longtime home in Uvalde on Sunday, they snapped photos of their front lawn while he waved a large homemade sign that read “President Biden, thank you for your support!”
The road ahead of them was lined with 21 American flags that they had planted in the ground, one for each of the 19 students and two teachers who were killed by a gunman at their 9-year-old granddaughter’s elementary school last week, some of them friends of the granddaughter .
The couple have lived directly across from Garner Field — Uvalde’s local airfield and the arrival and departure point for Biden’s Marine One helicopters — for 26 years, they said. They have never been so grateful that someone ended up there.
“I’m really glad he came,” said Mario Quintanilla. “Really, really glad.”
“This is history for us,” said Agnes Quintanilla.
While many in Uvalde expressed their gratitude for President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden’s visit to the city, few were as staunch in their support as the Quintanillas, who watched the arrival of the President’s helicopter and spent most of the day guiding him through the The city followed before hailing his arrival in Garner Pitch.
They wanted him to know that his visit to their hometown is greatly appreciated after such a devastating attack.
Less than half an hour before the shooting, Agnes Quintanilla was with her daughter and granddaughter at Robb Elementary School, she said, for an awards ceremony where her granddaughter received an art award. After the ceremony, the teacher told her granddaughter they could just take her home for the day, so they did.
Before they even got home, the teacher called them and warned them about a man with a gun, Agnes Quintanilla said. As the horrifying details of the incident became clearer, she couldn’t stop thinking, “What if we hadn’t taken my granddaughter home? What if she had been there?”
The thought was consuming for days, she said — until they heard the Bidens were coming and getting ready.
“Uvalde Strong,” read a sign attached to a tree in front of the door.
“Welcome, President Biden,” read another pinned to a traffic cone at the end of their driveway.
Mario Quintanilla, 68, who owns an electric company in the city, said he often votes Democrat but sometimes votes Republican. He thinks the two political camps should work together more often.
He likes Biden because he considers himself “compassionate” and “open-minded” and wants what’s best for the country, aside from politics.
And he hopes Biden can somehow get Texas to take more gun control measures, he said — even if that means giving up some of his own guns, particularly the assault rifle he bought to keep at the family’s ranch outside of town to use.
“Semi-automatic rifles? I don’t think that should be revealed to the public, including me,” he said.
Quintanilla said the more he thought about what happened, the more it made no sense that people, including teenagers like the Robb Elementary shooter, should be able to buy guns like this, which he said they could shoot as many rounds as fast as you can are as dangerous as grenades.
“A grenade will do the same,” he said. “Are they going to go out and start selling grenades to 18-year-olds?”
The state’s Republican leaders simply went too far with gun rights, taking Texas “back to the old western days,” he said. “That’s it.”
When Biden arrived — a president he believes has the power to work for compromise — he was out in the front yard waving his sign and smiling as his wife took pictures.
All of her Republican friends around town might be shy at her enthusiasm, Agnes Quintanilla said, but she won’t mind too much. It’s never stopped her from sharing her blue politics in this red city, she said.
“At the end of the day, we’re still friends,” she said. “Here in Uvalde everyone has a voice.”
https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2022-05-29/for-one-uvalde-couple-a-visit-from-biden-is-especially-welcomed A very welcomed presidential landing right across the street