- Matthew McConaughey gave an emotional speech against gun violence at the White House.
- The Uvalde native also displayed a pair of shoes worn by a girl killed in the Texas school massacre.
- McConaughey said the shoes were the only thing that helped identify 9-year-old Maite Rodriguez.
While speaking out against gun violence at the White House on Tuesday, Matthew McConaughey displayed a pair of shoes worn by a 9-year-old girl killed in the recent school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
The actor, who lives in Uvalde, said that the shoes — a pair of green Converse high-tops — were the only thing that made Maite Rodriguez’s body identifiable. Rodriguez was one of 21 people killed in the shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24.
“Maite wore green high-top Converse with a heart she had hand-drawn on the right toe because they represented her love of nature,” the actor said, asking his wife, Camila Alves, to hold up the shoes.
“These are the same green Converse on her feet that turned out to be the only clear evidence that could identify her after the shooting,” McConaughey said, pounding the White House lectern in anger as he choked up. “How about that?”
McConaughey also recounted how he had met Rodriguez’s mother and stepfather and was told about a letter she once wrote about wanting to become a marine biologist.
According to McConaughey, the letter read: “Marine biologist. I want to pass school to get to my dream college. My dream college is in Corpus Christi, by the ocean. I need to live next to the ocean because I want to be a marine biologist.”
“Marine biologists study animals and the water. Most of the time, I will be in a lab. Sometimes, I will be on TV,” he added, citing the letter.
McConaughey said that Rodriguez’s mother told him that if the letter could help someone else accomplish their dream then her “death would have an impact” and would not have been “pointless.”
The actor also said that Rodriguez cared so much about the environment that her mother turned down an offer to release balloons in her memory, because “Maite wouldn’t want to litter.”
In his statement to journalists, McConaughey also spoke about how he met a cosmetologist in the wake of the shooting, whose job was to make victims “appear as peaceful and natural as possible” for their funerals.
He said the bodies needed “extensive restoration” due to the “exceptionally large exit wounds of an AR-15 rifle,” which was the weapon used in the shooting by the 18-year-old gunman.
“Most of the bodies were so mutilated that only DNA tests or green Converse could identify them. Many children were left not only dead, but hollow,” said McConaughey.
In the immediate wake of the shooting, relatives of those involved were asked to give DNA samples to help identify the victims.
McConaughey has been an outspoken figure advocating for gun reform following the tragedy in his hometown and is now appealing to senators to take action on gun safety.