A teacher who survived the Texas school shooting said he will never forgive the police for taking over an hour to enter his classroom after the gunman first opened fire.
Arnulfo Reyes, a third and fourth grade teacher who taught in room 111, was shot in the lung and the back by high school dropout Salvador Ramos.
All 11 students in his classroom at Robb Elementary School, Uvalde, were killed. In total, 19 students and two teachers died in the attack on 24 May.
“I told my kids to act like they’re asleep so I’m going to act like I’m asleep also. And I prayed and prayed that I wouldn’t hear none of my students talk,” Mr Reyes told ABC News.
The gunman entered the school at 11.33am, firing off more than 100 rounds.
Although officers were in the school just minutes later, they didn’t breach the classroom where Ramos was holed up until 12.50pm – 77 minutes after he began his murderous rampage.
During that time, students made a number of 911 calls from inside the classrooms, begging for help.
Mr Reyes recalled how he heard a child in the next classroom, 112, call out in a desperate plea for help.
“Officer, we’re in here! We’re in here,” the student said, according to the teacher.
“They’re cowards,” Mr Reyes said of the police. “They sit there and did nothing for our community. They took a long time to go in. … I will never forgive them.”
He said he is left “angry” by the police response to the shooting.
“After everything, I get more angry because you have a bulletproof vest. I had nothing. I had nothing. You’re supposed to protect and serve, there is no excuse for their actions,” Mr Reyes said.
“This family lost one (child), I lost 11 that day,” he added, overcome with emotion.
“I tell my parents, ‘I’m sorry. I tried my best, what I was told to do. Please don’t be angry with me’.”
Robb Elementary School prepared for active shooter events, conducting drills as recently as a few weeks before the mass shooting.
But protocols were missed, including an issue with Mr Reyes’ classroom door, which he said would not latch.
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Mr Reyes said no amount of training could have prepared the teachers or students for the active shooter.
“We trained our kids to sit under the table and that’s what I thought of at the time. But we set them up to be like ducks.”