Yuvaldi, United States (AFP) – US President Joe Biden will visit Yuvaldi Sunday to mourn the 19 children and two teachers killed at an elementary school in a small Texas town.
Harrowing accounts of the plight of survivors of Tuesday’s attack emerged as Biden called for action to prevent future massacres in a country where efforts to tighten gun regulations have repeatedly failed.
We can’t criminalize tragedy, I know, but we can make America safer. “We can finally do what we have to do to protect the lives of people and our children,” Biden said Saturday in a speech at the University of Delaware.
“So this hour I call on all Americans to come together, make your voices heard, and work together to make this nation what it can and should be,” the president said.
As residents gathered in Ovaldi’s downtown plaza to honor the victims, accounts of the slow response by police confirmed haunting stories told by young students who played dead while a gunman killed their classmates and teachers.
10-year-old Samuel Salinas was sitting in his fourth-grade classroom when the shooter, later identified as Salvador Ramos, 18, burst into a frightening declaration: “You’re all going to die.”
“He just started shooting,” Salinas then told ABC News.
Texas authorities admitted Friday that as many as 19 police officers had been in the school entrance for about an hour without breaking into the room the shooter was in, believing he had ended his killing. Officials called this delay a “wrong decision.”
Ramos is finally killed by the police.
Survivors of the attack described a desperate request for help and a whisper in a 911 phone call while being assaulted. Some played dead to avoid drawing the shooter’s attention.
Even 11-year-old Miah Cerrillo smeared a dead friend’s blood on herself when she pretended to be dead.
Salinas said he believed Ramos shot him, but the bullet hit a chair, throwing shrapnel into the boy’s leg. “I played dead so he wouldn’t shoot me,” he said.
Another student, Daniel, whose mother did not reveal his last name, said he saw Ramos shoot through the glass in the classroom door, hitting his teacher.
He told the Washington Post that the bullets were “hot,” and when another bullet ricocheted and hit a fellow student in the nose, he said he heard the disgusting sound it made.
Even though his teacher lay on the floor bleeding, she repeatedly told the students, “Keep calm. Stay where you are. Don’t move,” Daniel recalls.
He was finally rescued by the police who smashed the windows of his classroom. Since then, he has had frequent nightmares.
By mid-morning Saturday, dozens of people had gathered in Ovaldi’s court yard, which had become a bleak place to honor victims and survivors.
Twenty-one simple white crosses were erected around the fountain – one for each victim.
People have left growing piles of stuffed animals and flowers, as well as heart-breaking messages: “I love you” and “We will miss you.”
Local resident Humberto Renovato, 33, asked attendees to hold hands, form a circle around crosses and pray.
He also urged those gathered in the courtyard to help survivors overcome the “trauma, pain and suffering” they have endured.
On Saturday, Vice President Kamala Harris attended the funeral of another mass shooting victim – Ruth Whitfield, who was among 10 people killed when a self-described white supremacist opened fire at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York on May 14.
“We will not allow those who are motivated by hate to separate us or make us feel afraid,” Harris said at the 86-year-old’s funeral.
She also urged US lawmakers to take action on firearms.
“Congress should have the courage to stand, once and for all, before the gun lobby and pass reasonable gun safety laws,” Harris wrote on Twitter.
The Ovaldi shooting was the most serious attack on the school since the killing of 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.
Stephen McCro, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, on Friday revealed a series of emergency calls — including by a child begging for police help — that were made from two adjacent classrooms where the gunman was barricaded.
But, explaining the belated reaction by law enforcement, he said the commander at the site believed at the time that Ramos was there with no survivors after his initial attack.
Separately, McCraw told reporters, however, that a 911 call from a child received at 12:16 p.m. said eight or nine children were still alive.
As many as 19 officers were outside the class door at the time, according to McCraw’s schedule.
McCro said the child, who called 911 several times – begged the police to come. Her last call was cut short as she walked out.
Back in the courtroom, Bear Bearman walked around with his golden retriever named Macy, allowing children and adults to get up close and personal with pets.
“Dogs have a natural ability to lower blood pressure and cause the body to release oxytocin, which is a calming hormone,” said Berman, who traveled to Texas from Florida and is part of a group that brings emotional support dogs to scenes of tragedy. in the United States of America.
“So the dogs will go out and listen to what weighs heavily on your heart, and they will not tell your secrets, they will only bring happiness.”