A Robb elementary school teacher who was shot and lost 11 students in the Uvalde, Texas massacre has criticized police for a slow response to the shooting, says gun laws to fire had to change and vowed to “not let these children and my colleagues die in vain.” »
Arnulfo Reyes, a third- and fourth-grade teacher who taught in room 111, recalled the horror of the shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead to ABC News. An excerpt from his interview broadcast Tuesday on “Hello America. »
Reyes said May 24 should be a good day with a special student awards ceremony as the school year draws to a close.
He said some children went home with their parents after the ceremony, but 11 stayed. Reyes had been editing a film for them when the shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, entered the building and began shooting.
“The kids started asking out loud, ‘Mr. Reyes, what’s going on? And I said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on. But let’s go, go under the table and pretend you’re sleeping, ”he recalled. “While they were doing this…that’s about when I turned around and saw him standing there. »
Reyes said the shooter entered room 111 through the door adjacent to room 112 and opened fire. Reyes was shot twice, one hitting him in the arm and lung and another in the back.
“I told my kids to act like they’re sleeping, so I’m going to act like I’m sleeping too. And I prayed and prayed that I wouldn’t hear any of my students talking,” Reyes recalled.
When asked if he thought he was going to die, he admitted, “Yes, ma’am. »
The shooter entered the school at 11:33 a.m. and began firing into nearby rooms 111 and 112, firing more than 100 rounds, according to audio evidence, the Texas Department of Public Safety previously said.
Although officers quickly followed the shooter around the school, they did not enter the classroom he was in until 12:50 p.m., 77 minutes later.
Law enforcement came under intense scrutiny for the delayed effort to confront the shooter – a move Reyes said he could not forgive.
“They are cowards,” Reyes told ABC News. “They sit there and have done nothing for our community. They took a long time to get in. … I will never forgive them.
He recalled how he heard a child in the next class, 112, call out in a desperate plea for help.
“Officer, we are here! We are here,” the student said, according to Reyes.
After hearing the voice, the shooter “got up from behind my desk, he went over there and shot over there again”, he said.
Reyes eventually heard officers wave at the shooter, saying they wanted to talk.
After the door was finally breached, Border Patrol killed the shooter.
“After that, it’s just bullets everywhere,” Reyes said. “I just remember the Border Patrols saying, ‘Get up!’ And I couldn’t get up.
Now Reyes has a long road to physical recovery.
He said he was “angry” at the police response to the shooting and the time it took to enter classrooms, where so many lives were lost. All the students in his class died in the rampage.
“After all, I’m getting angrier and angrier because you have a bulletproof vest. I had nothing. I had nothing. You are meant to protect and serve, there is no excuse for their actions,” Reyes said.
The emotional toll of the shooting left an indelible mark on Uvalde and the Robb Elementary community.
“This family lost one (child), I lost 11 that day,” Reyes said, overcome with emotion.
“I tell my parents, ‘I’m sorry. I did my best, what I was told to do. Please don’t be mad at me.’ »
Reyes said no amount of training can prepare students and staff for an active fire scenario.
“Nothing prepares you for this,” he said. “We trained our kids to sit under the table, and that’s what I thought at the time, but we set them up to be like ducks. »
“You can give us all the training you want. But gun laws need to change. It will never change unless you change the laws,” Reyes added.
He said he was dedicated to making change happen in honor of the 21 lives lost.
“The only thing I know is that I will not let these children and my colleagues die in vain. I won’t,” he said. “I will go anywhere, to the end of the world, so as not to let my students die in vain. »