Two days later a gunman killed 19 children and two Robb Elementary School teachers here, the survivors tell stories of the horrific times they went through when they were attacked.
Some children hid from the killer under the tables, while others faked their own death by smeared with blood. Some have been hit multiple times.
They saw their beloved teachers, Irma Garcia and Eva Mireles, being killed while protecting others from gunfire.
Officials said at least 17 children have been hospitalized with injuries, although it is unclear how many survived. Many who were in the building – and in the community – said their lives would never be the same.
“It’s really hard to cope with everything that’s going on,” said Amber Gonzales, whose 8-year-old daughter Aubree hid under her desk in another classroom as the shooting occurred.
Gonzales said Aubree is still traumatized by what happened.
“She’s terrified of going anywhere without her father and me,” she said. “She Can’t sleep alone. She is afraid of taking a shower alone. She is afraid even to watch a movie in the living room alone. I put her to bed last night and she told me she felt like someone was watching her – she’s really rocked by that. “
Aubree told her mother that during the shooting, a woman was knocking on her classroom door and “begging the teacher to let her in.”
Her teacher was unable to open the door due to lockout protocols, she said, and Aubree doesn’t know what happened to the woman or if she was one of the murdered teachers.
“I can only imagine the fear of hearing her scream, ‘Help!’ Help! ‘”Gonzales said, holding back the tears.
Though her focus is on her daughter’s well-being, Gonzales added that the circumstances have been incredibly difficult to manage as a parent.
“I’m a mess,” he said. “I’m just so grateful that I was able to take my baby home, tuck her up and be with her.”
“When I heard the shooting through the door, I told my friend to hide under something so he wouldn’t find us,” said the boy, who was not identified.
The boy, his best friend and three other students hid under a table with a tablecloth and managed to survive when his teachers and several of his classmates were killed.
“They were good teachers,” he said of Garcia and Mireles. “They went in front of my classmates to help. To save them “.
Other students in the class shared equally horrific stories.
11-year-old Miah Cerillo survived smearing her friend’s blood on her and pretending to be dead, his aunt, Blanca Rivera, told NBC News. She was hospitalized with bullet fragments in her back, but she has since been released, Rivera said.
Nine-year-old Kendall Olivarez was injured in the attack. He underwent arm surgery and was scheduled for further procedures, his aunt Jennifer Marie Olivarez said in a post on Facebook.
“Thank you so much everyone for your prayers … We know that her guardian angel protected her in all of this.” she wrote. “She will have so many follow-ups.”
Even those who weren’t in the room were struggling to make sense of what had happened.
Adam Pennington, 8, told the Times he was in the principal’s office shortly before the shooting and heard the principal answer a call from someone who saw the gunman approach.
“Someone jumped over the fence just now holding a gun,” Adam said overhearing the caller.
He and others hid under a table before fleeing to other rooms, including behind auditorium curtains, and finally evacuating to the civic center, where he was reunited with his mother Laura Pennington at around 1:30 PM.
Pennington, 37, an alternate from the Uvalde School District, said she plans to relocate her son and move to a smaller district nearby.
Although he criticized the lack of security cameras and guards at the school, he also said he felt law enforcement responded quickly.
“The children were evacuated very quickly. It wasn’t long before I saw it. I felt like they did a good job, ”she said as she stood with her son in front of a memorial to the victims, 21 crosses erected in a park in the city center.
Monique Hernandez, whose 8-year-old son Joaquin is a second-grader in Robb and survived, said she received a phone call about the shooting from a law enforcement family member and immediately rushed to the scene.
He called the teachers who were killed “beautiful and selfless women” who “always did everything for their children” to Robb and would do anything to protect them in the attack.
When she got to school, she said she could see her son’s classroom but didn’t know where he was.
Eventually he realized he was among the students who had been evacuated to a nearby camp and ran to him there.
“He just wanted to go home. She said, ‘Mom, take me home’. “
“Sure, baby,” she recalled telling him as she held back tears on Thursday.
“There are no words to make it OK,” he said, “to make it better.”
Hennessy-Fiske and Rector reported from Uvalde and Smith and Reyes-Velarde from Los Angeles.