Josh Reynolds was relaxing in his hotel room after the first day of Organized Team Activities when news of the Uvalde school shooting pinged his phone Tuesday.
Immediately, Reynolds called his mother, Michele.
Reynolds, in his second season with the Detroit Lions, grew up in San Antonio, about an hour east of Uvalde. He remembers playing AAU basketball events in the city, though not at Robb Elementary, where a lone gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in the deadliest school shooting in the United States since Sandy Hook in 2012.
Michele Reynolds is an assistant principal at San Antonio’s Taft High School who spent years teaching at another high school in the district.
Whenever a school shooting happens, Josh’s thoughts race for his mom.
“Instantly,” he said. “And how brave is she being. And selfishly, I’d wish she wouldn’t be brave, but unselfishly, got to protect the kids. You don’t want to have a kid go to school and have to tell their parents they’re not making it back.”
Reynolds said his initial phone call to his mom did not go through, but he had a brief text exchange with her later that day.
This weekend, he plans to travel home to Texas to visit family for Memorial Day.
“You never think it’s going to happen in your area until it does,” Reynolds told the Free Press on Thursday. “I haven’t been able to talk to any of my family about it yet, but I know it puts fear in anybody’s heart, whether you’re from Texas or not, cause it literally can happen anywhere and everywhere. So it’s just a tough situation. Not a good situation.”
Six months after the Lions and local community were galvanized by a school shooting at Oxford High School that killed four students and injured seven others, Reynolds said he is trying to figure out how to help victims of the latest massacre.
He hosts his annual football camp July 3 in San Antonio and said he could potentially use that to benefit Uvalde.
On a broader level, the Lions could focus one or more of their annual “Inspire Change” initiatives, the program dedicated to distributing charitable contributions to causes important to players, to issues related to school and/or gun violence.
Ten days before the Uvalde shooting, on May 14, a gunman killed 10 people and injured three in a racially motivated attack on a grocery store in a predominently Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York. One day later, a shooting at a church in Laguna Woods, California, killed one and left five injured.
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“When I got up this morning and I started driving in, the only thing that hit my mind were these shootings,” Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn said Thursday. “Man, it’s so troubling, the first one that happened in Buffalo and then the one recently that happened in Uvalde. Gosh, and the only thing that I think about is — and I actually heard somebody say this, this morning. I thought it was such a true statement is you get guys that’s 21 years old and that’s the first time they can buy a beer. But, man, they’re allowing an 18-year-old to buy assault rifles. Just something’s just wrong with that.”
Both Glenn and Reynolds said they did have the answers for how to stop mass casualty events. But Glenn, a Texas native, said “I know that there are people at a high level that have to figure those things out.”
Reynolds said his hope is “that people love each other and just respect humanity.” He said teachers should not have to worry about protecting their students from gun violence, and after never having had to practice active shooter drills as a youth, he said he feels for kids who endure those regularly now.
“It’s sad when it becomes the norm,” he said. “We got to figure some way to change that.”