UVALDE, Texas — A young survivor of the massacre at a Texas elementary school said she covered herself with a friend’s blood and pretended to be dead while she waited for help to arrive.
Miah Cerrillo, 11, told CNN that she and a friend called 911 from her dead teacher’s phone Tuesday and waited for what felt like, to her, three hours for officers to arrive at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.
During that time, nearly 20 officers stood for about 45 minutes in the hallway outside the adjoining Texas classrooms before US Border Patrol agents unlocked the door to confront and kill him, authorities said Friday.
Cerrillo told CNN that she had initially thought that police simply hadn’t managed to arrive as the shooting developed but later realized that hadn’t been the case. “I heard the grownups later say the police were outside and weren’t coming in,” she was quoted as having said.
“Why didn’t they come in? Why didn’t they save us?” she asked.
Cerrillo’s parents have started a GoFundMe page to help pay for therapy for their daughter, who said she keeps “seeing [bloody] bodies on the ground” since the shooting.
11-year-old Miah Cerrillo told me that to survive the shooting at Robb Elementary, she smeared her friend's blood all over her body and played dead.
She had to lay there, with her teachers and friends dead next to her, for almost an hour.
My full CNN exclusive reporting: pic.twitter.com/eXtUAQgvCz
— Nora Neus (@noraneus) May 27, 2022
CNN said that throughout the off-camera interview, Cerrillo covered herself in a blanket in an apparent effort to provide a sense of security even though it was hot outside.
The children who survived the attack, which killed 19 schoolchildren and two teachers, described a festive, end-of-the-school-year day that quickly turned to terror.
Samuel Salinas, 10, told ABC’s Good Morning America that he and other classmates pretended to be dead after Ramos opened fire on the class. Samuel was struck by shrapnel in his thigh.
“He shot the teacher and then he shot the kids,” said Samuel, who was in Irma Garcia’s class. Garcia died in the attack and her husband, Joe Garcia, died Thursday of an apparent heart attack.
“[The shooter] came in and said ‘you’re all gonna die’ and just started shooting.”
— ABC News (@ABC) May 27, 2022
Gemma Lopez, 10, was in a classroom down the hall when Ramos entered the building. She told Good Morning America that a bullet came through her classroom wall before any lockdown was called.
Her best friend, Amerie Garza, died in the rampage.
Their descriptions added to the sense of growing outrage over police actions during the incident.
Authorities began offering additional — but somewhat contradictory — details of the shooting on Friday, saying that nearly 20 officers stood in a hallway outside of the classrooms for more than 45 minutes before agents used a master key to open a door and confront the gunman.
It was 11:28 a.m. when Ramos’ Ford pickup slammed into a ditch behind the low-slung Texas school and the driver jumped out carrying an AR-15-style rifle. He entered the halls of Robb Elementary School twelve minutes later and began shooting. But it wasn’t until 12:58 p.m. that law enforcement radio chatter said Ramos had been killed and the siege was over.
The on-site commander believed Ramos was barricaded in a classroom and that the children were not at risk, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said at a news conference.
“He was convinced at the time that there was no more threat to the children and that the subject was barricaded and that they had time to organize” to get into the classroom, McCraw said.
“Of course, it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision,” he said.
McCraw said US Border Patrol agents eventually used a master key to open the locked door of the classroom where they confronted and killed Ramos.
McCraw said there was a barrage of gunfire shortly after Ramos entered the classroom where they killed Ramos but that shots were “sporadic” for much of the 48 minutes while officers waited outside the hallway. He said investigators do not know if or how many children died during those 48 minutes.
Throughout the attack, teachers and children repeatedly called 911 asking for help, including a girl who pleaded: “Please send the police now,” McCraw said.
Questions have mounted over the amount of time it took officers to enter the school to confront the gunman.
“They say they rushed in,” said Javier Cazares, whose fourth-grade daughter, Jacklyn Cazares, was killed in the attack, and who raced to the school as the massacre unfolded. “We didn’t see that.”
Friday’s briefing came only after authorities spent three days providing often conflicting and incomplete information.
According to the new timeline provided by McCraw, After crashing his truck, Ramos fired on two people coming out of a nearby funeral home, officials said.
Contrary to earlier statements by officials, a school district police officer was not inside the school when Ramos arrived. When that officer did respond, he unknowingly drove past Ramos, who was crouched behind a car parked outside and firing at the building, McCraw said.
At 11:33 a.m., Ramos entered the school through a rear door that had been propped open and fired more than 100 rounds into a pair of classrooms, McCraw said.
Department of Public Safety spokesman Travis Considine said investigators haven’t yet determined why the door was propped open.
Two minutes later, three local police officers arrived and entered the building through the same door, followed soon after by four others, McCraw said. Within 15 minutes, as many as 19 officers from different agencies had assembled in the hallway, taking sporadic fire from Ramos, who was holed up in a classroom.
Ramos was still inside at 12:10 p.m. when the first US Marshals Service deputies arrived. They had raced to the school from nearly 70 miles (113 kilometers) away in the border town of Del Rio, the agency said in a tweet Friday.
But the police commander inside the building decided the group should wait to confront the gunman, on the belief that the scene was no longer an active attack, McCraw said.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report