On the eve of President Joe Biden’s visit, America on Saturday found the first testimonies of children who survived the Yuvaldi massacre, describing the horror at this Texas school where a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers.
The day before, Texas authorities took responsibility, admitting that the police had made a “bad decision” not to enter the building quickly.
It took the police about an hour on Tuesday to put an end to the massacre, despite numerous calls from children to intervene. The nineteen agents on the scene were waiting for a specialized unit attack.
Inside, children were locked up with the shooter, barely 18-year-old Salvador Ramos.
Upon entering the room, the latter closed the door, and told the children, “You’re all going to die,” before opening fire, one of the survivors, Samuel Salinas, 10, told ABC Friday.
“I think he was shooting at me,” the child testified, but a chair between him and the shooter blocked the shot.
In the bloodied room, Samuel Salinas tried to “play dead” so he wouldn’t be targeted by bullets.
– ‘keep calm’ –
Miah Cerrillo, 11, tried to escape the attention of Salvador Ramos in the same way. The girl covered herself in the blood of her companion, whose body was next to her, she explained to CNN, in unrefined testimony.
She had just seen a teenager kill his teacher after saying “Goodnight”.
Another student, Daniel, told the Washington Post that while the victims waited for the police to arrive to rescue them, no one screamed.
I was scared and stressed because the bullets almost hit me.”
Her teacher, who was wounded in the attack but survived, told the students to “keep calm” and “stay still”.
Daniel, who could no longer sleep alone, said a child, who was shot, gently asked the teacher to call the police, saying she was “bleeding badly”.
Her mother, Briana Ruiz, said the children who survived are “traumatized, and will have to live with her their whole lives”.
Samuel Salinas also said he had nightmares in which he saw the shooter. The thought of going back to school, or even seeing your classmates, is still scary.
“I’m not looking forward,” he asserted, adding that he wanted to “stay home” and “rest.”
And in the city of Ovaldi, dozens of people gathered on Saturday morning in the central square, which has become a place to honor the victims. In the 21 crosses that now stand there – one for each victim – we can read “I love you” or “I miss you.”
Residents leave flowers, stuffed animals, letters addressed to pupils and teachers. And think about the survivors, too.
“We have to help these kids get out of this trauma, this pain,” said Humberto Renovato, 33.
– Biden on Sunday –
The testimonies of survivors have only fueled the controversy over the police response.
Pressured by reporters to explain their much-criticized response time, Stephen McCro, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said law enforcement believed there “might be no other survivors.”
However, police received numerous calls from people in the two affected classrooms, including one from a child at 12.16pm, more than half an hour before the police intervened at 12.50pm, warning that “eight nine students are alive,” he said. malicious saying
The President of the United States and his wife, Jill Biden, are heading to Yuvaldi, Sunday, to “share in mourning” for the residents of this small town who suffered one of the worst gun massacres in recent years in the country.
“You can’t make drama illegal, I know it. But you can make America safer,” Joe Biden implored in a speech on Saturday, lamenting that “in many places, too many innocents have died.”
Its vice president, Kamala Harris, was at the funeral of one of the 10 African American victims killed in mid-May in a racist shooting in Buffalo, New York. “We will not allow those motivated by hatred to separate us or intimidate us,” she said.
The Ovaldi shooting reawakened America’s shocks.
The faces of the very young victims, ages 9 to 11, have been repeatedly broadcast on television, and the testimonies of their devastated relatives have moved the country, re-launching a wave of calls for better gun regulation.
The Democratic president, who has often denounced the “epidemic” of gun violence, has so far failed to pass major legislation on the issue.