Fourth grade teacher Arnulfo Reyes was in his class at Robb Elementary School on May 24 when a gunman entered the room and killed 11 of his students. The teacher, who was injured in the shooting, shared what he saw that day in an emotional interview with “Good Morning America.”
“It was our typical morning — we ate breakfast together,” says Reyes, who has been a teacher for 17 years.
He said it was going to be “a good day” — the kids were excited because there was an awards ceremony at school that morning, and some students who hadn’t gotten any awards all year would finally get one. While some of the kids went home after the ceremony, 11 of his students stayed at school and started a movie.
When gunshots started ringing throughout the school, Reyes said he followed protocol and instructed the children to sit under the table and pretend to be asleep.
“While they were doing that, and I gathered them under the table and told them to pretend they were going to sleep, it was about time I turned around and saw him standing there,” Reyes said.
The gunman entered room 111 through a connecting door from class 112 and opened fire. Reyes was hit in the arm, lung and back. When he fell to the ground, Reyes said he followed the same advice he’d given his kids: pretend you’re asleep.
“And I prayed and prayed that I wouldn’t hear any of my students talk,” Reyes said, adding that he thought he was going to die.
He then heard the authorities enter the school. After a student from the adjacent classroom called officers for help, Reyes said the gunman entered room 112 and opened fire again.
More than an hour after the gunman entered the school, border patrol stormed in, shot and killed him.
“After that it was bullets everywhere,” Reyes said. “And then I remember Border Patrol saying, ‘Get up. Get up.’ And I couldn’t get up.”
In the weeks since the shooting, Uvalde police have had to deal withfor their actions that day, especially reaction time from when the active gunman was first reported when authorities finally broke into the classrooms. Preliminary results of a Texas Department of Public Safety investigation officers thought they had more time to gather equipment, and the scene changed from an active gunman to a barricaded subject.
“It wasn’t the right decision,” Texas DPS director Steven McCraw said. “It was the wrong decision not to violate.”
Reyes also criticized the police response, calling the officers cowards for not entering the school earlier. He said there was “no excuse” for their actions and that he will “never forgive them”.
“After all, I get even angrier because you had a bulletproof vest,” Reyes said. “I had nothing.”
There were 11 students in his classroom when the gunman entered, and they were all killed. In the interview, Reyes mourned his students and begged their families and parents for forgiveness.
“And I want to say to the parents: I’m sorry. I did my best, what I was told,” he said. “Please don’t be mad at me.”
Reyes said no active shooting training could have protected them from the shooter.
“It all went too fast. Training, no training, all kinds of training, nothing gets you ready for this. We trained our kids to sit under the table, and that’s what I thought at the time was what we set them up to be like sitting ducks ,” he said. “You can give us all the training you want, but the gun laws have to change.”
Now he’s determined to keep their memories alive, and while he’s not sure if he’ll ever teach again, he’s determined to make sure thatso a shooting like this doesn’t happen anymore.
“All I know is that I will not let these children and my colleagues die in vain,” Reyes said. “I will go everywhere – to the end of the world – not to let my students die in vain. They didn’t deserve this – nobody in this world deserves this kind of pain, no mother, nobody, deserves this.”