What started as a “typical morning” for Robb Elementary teacher Arnulfo Reyes and his 11 students in Room 111 two weeks ago ended in terror.
Reyes, a third- and fourth-grade teacher at the Uvalde campus, spoke with ABC News anchor Amy Robach about the tragedy from his hospital bed in San Antonio, where he’s undergone several surgeries due to gunshot wounds.
His classroom was one of two that was ambushed by an 18-year-old gunman on May 24. The gunman fired more than 100 rounds in the two adjoining classrooms, rooms 111 and 112.
Reyes said the class was spending that Tuesday watching “The Addams Family” and gearing up for an awards ceremony — a relaxed school day in the last week of the school year.
Then, gunshots rang out.
“And the kids started asking out loud, ‘Mister, what is going on?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on, but let’s go ahead and get under the table. Get under the table and act like you’re asleep,’” he said.
As he was gathering the children under the table, he saw the shooter in the adjoining room.
“I turned around and saw him standing there,” he said. Almost immediately, the gunman opened fire, striking Reyes with two of those bullets.
One went through his arm and lung, and the other went through his back. He collapsed, and could no longer move.
Reyes said students could hear police outside the classroom, and one of them called for help.
“One of the students from the next-door classroom was saying, ‘Officer, we’re in here, we’re in here,’” Reyes said.
“But they had already left.”
The gunmen walked to that classroom and opened fire again, Reyes said.
A timeline from Steve McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, says that seven officers entered the school by 11:35 a.m., just minutes after the gunman entered the building. They took on gunfire and retreated.
At 12:03 p.m., a girl called 911 and whispered that she was in room 112. She called again at 12:10 p.m. and said there were multiple dead. She called again at 12:13 p.m. and then again at 12:16 p.m., when she said there are eight to nine students alive.
DPS said another girl in room 111 called 911 at 12:19 p.m. but ended the call when a fellow student told her to hang up. More 911 calls were made, with one girl pleading twice to “please send the police now.”
“I prayed and prayed that I would not hear any of my students talk,” Reyes said, believing that he was going to die.
At 12:50 p.m., officers opened the door with keys from a school employee and entered the room, killing the gunman, according to McCraw.
Reyes said there were “bullets everywhere. And then I just remember Border Patrol saying, ‘Get up, get out,’ and I couldn’t get up.”
He called the police “cowards” for not acting sooner and regrets that he couldn’t do more to save the lives of his students and colleagues.
Two teachers and 19 fourth-grade students ended up dying in the shooting.
“After everything, I get more angry, because you have a bulletproof vest. I had nothing,” he said. “You’re supposed to protect and serve. There’s no excuse for their actions and I will never forgive them.”
Since the shooting, Gov. Greg Abbott has called for additional training, but Reyes said everything happened too fast for the teachers and students in those two rooms.
“I tried my best with what I was told to do,” he said, adding that schools train students to hide under tables and desks. “We set them up to be as ducks.”
“You can give us all the training you want, but gun laws have to change.”
He said he would “go to the end of the world” to see change.
On Wednesday, parents of victims and survivors of the Uvalde mass shooting will appear before a House committee to bring awareness to America’s gun violence epidemic.
One of the Uvalde students, Miah Cerrillo, a fourth-grader who covered herself in her dead classmate’s blood and played dead to survive, will testify.
By Rebecca Salinas