On Tuesday afternoon, Layla Salazar was just two days away from summer vacation.
The fourth grader's family was going to celebrate the start of the break with a trip to the zoo. They had plans to visit her grandmother in Illinois.
Instead, her grandmother made the trip to Uvalde after getting the news that Layla was among the 21 students and teachers killed when a gunman opened fire on Robb Elementary School.
“We left Chicago and came here just to be in a safer place for her, and then this happened,” said Vincent Salazar, Layla's father.
Salazar recalled rushing to Layla's school after receiving a text alert Tuesday notifying parents that there was a gunman at Ross Elementary.
“You couldn’t even get close over there. There was just so much law enforcement and everything else,” he said.
He made his way to the civic center and joined dozens of other parents waiting to be reunited with their kids.
After 10 hours, they got the news they already knew was coming, Layla was among those killed.
On Thursday, the Salazar family gathered to remember a "super special child."
“Just very energetic. She loved to swim. Loved to make Tik Toks,” Vincent Salazar said, while cradling a recent school photo of Layla.
Salazar said one of his daughter’s greatest passions was running. On the track, she never lost a race. The proud father recently shared to his Facebook a video of Layla sprinting ahead in first at the school's field day. The caption read: "Run with the angels baby!"
Each morning as he drove her to school in his pickup, Salazar would play “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” by Guns N’ Roses and they’d sing along, he said.
“She was just a happy little girl. There wasn’t a day that went by that she wasn’t happy. We tried to do the best we could to make her happy,” he said.
Layla's grandfather called on Congress to pass legislation to curb the nation's epidemic of gun violence.
“It can’t happen anymore," said her grandfather as he clutched a doll the 11-year-old slept with on a weekend visit to his home only days earlier. "There’s been too many. This has got to stop. There’s no reason that Congress can’t pass a law where an 18-year-old can’t buy a gun instead of changing it to 21 or even 25 years old."
Now, instead of kicking off the summer with a trip to the zoo, Layla’s parents, big brothers and grandparents are making preparations to bury an 11-year-old girl.