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Rays’ Brooks Raley has personal connection to Texas shootings

The lefty reliever grew up in Uvalde, Texas, and attended the elementary school where at least 21 were killed.
Rays relief pitcher Brooks Raley (30) delivers a pitch during a game against the Seattle Mariners in April at Tropicana Field. Raley grew up in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 students and two teachers were killed on Tuesday.
Rays relief pitcher Brooks Raley (30) delivers a pitch during a game against the Seattle Mariners in April at Tropicana Field. Raley grew up in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 students and two teachers were killed on Tuesday. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published May 25|Updated May 25

ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday’s tragic shootings of 19 students and two teachers at an Uvalde, Texas, school struck particularly close to home for Rays pitcher Brooks Raley.

The reliever grew up in that town and attended Robb Elementary, where the shootings occurred.

“I walked those halls,” Raley said Wednesday. “I can’t imagine what they experienced. …

“Just a tragedy. Obviously, growing up there, going to that school, it kind of hits home. Having young children myself, you just feel for those families. You pray for them. And your thoughts are with them.”

Crime scene tape surrounds Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas Wednesday, where at least 19 fourth-graders and their two teachers were killed Tuesday.
Crime scene tape surrounds Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas Wednesday, where at least 19 fourth-graders and their two teachers were killed Tuesday. [ JAE C. HONG | AP ]

Raley moved from Uvalde, a city of 16,000 about 90 miles west of San Antonio and 75 miles from the Mexico border, after attending Texas A&M. But he still has family there, including his parents and his younger brother, Cory, who is married and has a young daughter.

“I’m feeling for that community,” Raley said. “It’s a small, close-knit community. It’s obviously a tough day today of mourning. … A lot of good people there, a lot of very good families and whatnot. So it’s a tough time.”

The Rays and other major-league teams observed a moment of silence for the victims before Wednesday’s games.

The gunman reportedly bought two AR-15-style rifles at Oasis Outback, a sporting goods store about three miles from the school. Raley and his brother are co-owners of Exile Firearms, a company also based in Uvalde that makes and sells custom rifles for hunters.

“It’s totally different,” Raley said. “It’s not even the same realm.”

The archbishop of San Antonio, Gustavo Garcia-Siller, comforts families outside of the Civic Center in Uvalde, Texas Tuesday.
The archbishop of San Antonio, Gustavo Garcia-Siller, comforts families outside of the Civic Center in Uvalde, Texas Tuesday. [ DARIO LOPEZ-MILLS | AP ]

Raley said he first heard about the shootings just before Tuesday’s game but didn’t get much information until afterward. He then started reaching out to people in Uvalde for more information, including his parents.

“You obviously want to check in on people and see how they’re doing and whatnot,” he said. “But I don’t think we have answers to a lot of questions.”

Raley said he offered to provide assistance through fundraising or other avenues whenever needed.

“I made it known if there is anything I can do, I will do,” he said. “It’s going to take time.”

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