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Questions mount about the law enforcement response to the Texas elementary school massacre

“We deserve to know what happened. These parents deserve to know what happened,” state Sen. Ronald Gutierrez, whose district includes Uvalde, told CNN on Thursday.

“I know there was a failure here,” Gutierrez added, noting he has seen video of law enforcement entering the building and the standoff.

11-year-old recalls the attack

Miah Cerrillo, 11, smeared her friend’s blood all over herself and played dead to survive the nightmare, she told CNN.

Miah and her classmates were watching the movie “Lilo and Stitch” when teachers Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia got word of a shooter in the building. One teacher went to lock the door, but the shooter was right there — and shot out the door’s window, Miah said.

As her teacher backed into the classroom, the gunman followed. He then looked one teacher in the eye, said “Goodnight,” and shot her, the girl recalled.

He then opened fire, shooting the other teacher and many of Miah’s friends. Bullets flew by her, Miah said, and fragments hit her shoulders and head.

The gunman then went through a door into an adjoining classroom. Miah heard screams and more gunshots. When the firing stopped, the shooter started playing music that was “sad, like you want people to die,” the girl said.

The friends of family of Miranda Mathis grieve her loss.

Scared the gunman would come back to kill her and her few surviving friends, Miah put her hands into the blood of a slain friend lying next to her and smeared herself with it, she said.

The girl and a friend managed to grab a dead teacher’s phone and call 911 for help, she said. She told a dispatcher “please send help because we’re in trouble.”

The pair then lay down and played dead.

Chaos and confusion outside

As the gunman holed up, chaos and confusion reigned Tuesday outside the school. Fraught parents showed up and implored law enforcement to let them go in. One father asked officers to give him their gear, he said.

“I told one of the officers myself, if they didn’t want to go in there, let me borrow his gun and a vest and I’ll go in there myself to handle it. And they told me no,” Victor Luna told CNN. His son Jayden survived.

What we know about the victims at Robb Elementary School

Instead, officers held parents behind yellow police tape, refusing to let them enter as crying and screaming echoed around them, several videos show. After about an hour, a US Border Patrol tactical team forced its way into the classroom and fatally shot the gunman, Escalon said.

Investigators are still working to piece together a timeline of the carnage, Escalon, DPS’ South Texas regional director, said during a news conference. “With all the different agencies that are involved, we’re working every angle that’s available,” Escalon said. “We won’t stop until we get all the answers that we possibly can.”

“At the end of the day, we have to find out for the future, so that this never happens again, what kind of failures happened,” said Gutierrez, the state senator. “And I feel in this situation, standing back was not the thing to do.”

Meantime, the final victims’ remains were returned Thursday night to families. Six people were still hospitalized Thursday, including the shooter’s grandmother, who was shot in the face by her grandson before he drove to the school. And the husband of a slain teacher died Thursday of a heart attack brought on, his family said, by a broken heart.
The shooting in Uvalde is the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre and at least the 30th shooting at a K-12 school in 2022. The attack came less than two weeks after a racist mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, and has left Americans grieving yet again and many renewing calls for gun law reform.

What we know about the shooting timeline

After shooting his grandmother in her home, Ramos drove to Robb Elementary, where he crashed his truck in a nearby ditch, DPS Sgt. Erick Estrada said. It’s unclear why he crashed.

The shooter then fired at two witnesses across the street before walking toward the school and shooting at the building, according to Escalon.

There were no officers outside the school to stop Ramos, who “walked in unobstructed initially,” Escalon said Thursday. Earlier information about a school resource officer engaging the gunman was “not accurate,” he said.

Ramos got into the building through an apparently unlocked door at 11:40 a.m., Escalon said. That door is normally locked, “unless you are leaving to go home on the school bus,” former principal Ross McGlothlin told CNN.

Inside the school, the shooter barricaded himself inside two adjoining classrooms and fired more than 25 times, Escalon said.

Parents of elementary school children: What are your children feeling and asking you about the Texas school shooting?

At 11:44 a.m., law enforcement arrived and entered the school. Three officers went in the same door the shooter used and four used a different entrance, Olivarez told CNN.

When they confronted the shooter, he fired at them and they took cover. Two responding officers were shot; their injuries were not life threatening, said Uvalde Police Chief Daniel Rodriguez.

“It is important for our community to know that our officers responded within minutes” alongside school resource officers, he said.

Officers then called for more tactical teams and resources, such as body armor, while they worked to evacuate teachers and students, Escalon said. About an hour later, a US Border Patrol tactical team entered and killed Ramos, he said.

When asked for more details at a news conference about what exactly responding officers were doing in the hour-long period, Escalon declined to provide further information.

Grieving community reckons with aftermath

Days after the massacre, the residents of Uvalde are still saturated in grief. For some, the devastating news continued to come as community members learned the husband of one of the victims had died Thursday morning.

'Joe died of a broken heart': Husband of beloved teacher killed in Texas shooting dies two days later
Joe Garcia died of a heart attack, just two days after his wife, Irma, was killed in the shooting, the Archdiocese of San Antonio told CNN. Irma Garcia was a fourth-grade teacher and had been married to Joe for over 25 years, according to a GoFundMe campaign posted by her cousin. The pair’s family says Joe died of a broken heart.

Edward Timothy Silva, a second grader who was in the school, hid behind desks in the dark as he heard loud noises in the distance, he recalled to his mom.

“He was asking me does he have to go to school next year,” his mother Amberlynn Diaz said. “And I just don’t want him to be afraid of school. I want him to continue learning and not be scared of going back to school. I want him to have a normal life again.”

CNN’s Tina Burnside, Carroll Alvarado, Joe Sutton, Shimon Prokupecz, Travis Caldwell, Jamiel Lynch, Andy Rose, Amanda Musa, Alexa Miranda, Monica Serrano, Amanda Jackson, Caroll Alvarado, Eric Levenson and Holly Yan contributed to this report.

Quoted from Various Sources

Published for: WATPFC