At least seven officers rushed into Robb Elementary within four minutes of the shooter’s arrival, DPS spokesman Chris Olivarez told CNN. But why it then took rescuers almost an hour to get into the classroom where the shooter barricaded himself is also unclear.
“We deserve to know what happened. These parents deserve to know what happened,” Sen. Ronald Gutierrez, whose district includes Uvalde, told CNN on Thursday.
“I know there was a failure here,” Gutierrez added, noting that he saw video of law enforcement entering the building and deadlocked. “And I think in that situation stepping back was not the thing to do.”
11-year-old boy played dead to stay alive
To survive the nightmare, 11-year-old Miah Cerrillo smeared her friend’s blood on herself and played dead, she told CNN.
Miah and her classmates were watching the movie “Lilo and Stitch” when teachers Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia heard of a gunman in the building. A teacher went to lock the door, but the shooter was right there — and fired through the door window, Miah said.
As his teacher backed into the classroom, the shooter followed him. He then looked a female teacher in the eye, said “Good night” and shot her, the girl recalled.
And then he opened fire, shooting the other teacher and many of Miah’s friends. Bullets flew past her, Miah said, and fragments hit her shoulders and head.
The shooter then walked through a door into a nearby classroom. Miah heard screams and more gunshots. When the shooting stopped, the gunman started playing music “sad, like you want people to die,” the girl said.
Afraid that he would return to kill her and her few surviving friends, Miah put her hands in the blood of a slain friend lying next to her and smeared it on herself, 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 having trouble.”
The pair then lay down and played dead.
As they stood still and the shooter hid, chaos and confusion reigned outside the school. Concerned parents showed up and pleaded with law enforcement to let them in. A father asked the officers to give him their gear, he said.
“I told one of the officers myself that if they don’t want to go, let me borrow his gun and a vest and I’ll go over there myself to take care of it. And they told me no,” said Victor Luna. CNN. His son Jayden survived.
Instead, officers restrained the parents behind yellow police tape, refusing to let them in as cries and screams echoed around them, multiple videos show. After about an hour, a U.S. Border Patrol tactical team forced their way into the classroom and fatally shot the shooter, Escalon said.
What we know about the filming timeline
After shooting his grandmother in her home, Ramos drove to Robb Elementary, where he crashed his truck into a nearby ditch, DPS Sgt. said Erick Estrada. We don’t know why it crashed.
The shooter then shot two witnesses across the street before heading towards the school and shooting at the building, according to Escalon.
There were no officers outside the school to arrest Ramos, who “entered unimpeded at the start,” Escalon said Thursday. Earlier reports of a school resource officer hiring the shooter were “not accurate,” he said.
Ramos entered the building through an apparently unlocked door at 11:40 a.m., Escalon said. That door is normally locked, “unless you’re leaving to go home on the school bus,” former principal Ross McGlothlin told CNN.
Inside the school, the shooter barricaded himself in two adjoining classrooms and fired more than 25 times, Escalon said.
At 11:44 a.m., security forces arrived and entered the school. Three officers entered through the same door the shooter used and four used a different entrance, Olivarez told CNN.
When they confronted the shooter, he shot them and they took cover. Two officers who responded were shot; their injuries were not life-threatening, Uvalde Police Chief Daniel Rodriguez said.
“It’s 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, as 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 press conference about exactly what the responding officers were doing during the hour-long period, Escalon declined to provide further information.
The grieving community reckon with the consequences
For survivors, trauma sets in. Edward Timothy Silva, a second-grader who hid behind desks in the dark at school as he heard loud noises in the distance, now wonders, “Does he have to go to school next year?” next year,” her mother Amberlynn Diaz said.
“And I just don’t want him to be scared of school,” she said. “I want him to keep learning and not be afraid to go back to school. I want him to have a normal life again.”
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.