SANTA FE, Texas (FOX 26) - It's news that no family member ever wants to hear and for Charles and John Conard that news was that their nephew, 17-year-old Jared Conard Black, was among the 10 lives lost in the Santa Fe shooting.
"You hold onto a shred of hope, but reality in the back of your mind is always there," said Jared's uncle John Conrad, "Just can't even really believe that it happened."
Jared had just turned 17 two days before his life was tragically taken. His birthday party was set for Saturday, May 19.
"He never frowned. Never," said Charles Conard, Jared's other uncle. "That kid was the happiest kid ever. He found joy in every little thing."
Jared's family says he loved art. One of his favorite things to do was draw and design comic books. It only makes sense that first-hour Art was one of his favorite classes.
"He just loved the art class," said John. "He loved Mrs.Tisdale."
Jared moved, with his mom, to Santa Fe from Oregon when he was only four years old. He loved the outdoors, so traveling back to Oregon and camping with his Uncle Charles would, no doubt, bring a smile to this already happy teenager.
"He loved being in the water every day playing, splashing," recalls Charles. "It was some of the best memories I have of him."
The Conards say school officials matched Jared's yearbook photo to his body so the family was spared from seeing the carnage.
"They absorbed part of that sorrow for the family so that they didn't have to take on that burden," said a grateful John.
And in the midst of unthinkable grief, overwhelming gratitude shared by these brothers to those who risked their lives to save others, especially School Resource Officer John Barnes who remains in critical condition, credited with containing the shooter until more help arrived.
"How deeply grateful we are to him; for his act of courage, for his sacrifice," said John.
"People need to be more involved in their children, every day," said Charles. "They need to teach them sympathy and teach them empathy and what the difference between the two of them is so that they can share the love and understand why you need to treat people right."
Funeral arrangements are still being made for Jared.