Arnulfo Reyes can’t forgive law enforcement for taking more than an hour to stop a gunman who killed 11 fourth-graders in his Texas elementary school classroom and 10 other people in the next room, he told ABC.
Reyes, a teacher who was shot twice during the May 24 massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, recalled the horror that unfolded in his room and an adjoining one and spoke, too, in interviews that aired Monday and Tuesday about his mounting anger toward law enforcement responders.
“After everything, I get more angry because … I had nothing” for protection, such as a bulletproof vest, Reyes told ABC’s Amy Robach in a segment broadcast Tuesday on “Good Morning America.”
“You’re supposed to protect and serve. … There is no excuse for their actions. And I will never forgive them,” the fourth-grade reading and English/language arts teacher said in some of his first public comments since the slaughter.
The gunman, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, stormed into Reyes’ classroom and an adjoining one, shooting dead 19 fourth-graders and two teachers, authorities have said. He was in the classrooms for more than an hour before he was shot and killed by a Border Patrol tactical response team, a timeline provided by the Texas Department of Public Safety shows.
Officers had responded within minutes of the shooter entering the classroom but were repelled by the gunman’s fire and then stationed in a hallway to call for reinforcements and equipment such as body armor, even as children inside called 911 and begged for police help, the timeline indicates.
It was a “wrong decision” by the school district police chief not to engage the gunman sooner, Texas DPS director Col. Steven McCraw said three days later. The chief is Pedro “Pete” Arredondo.
Teacher told students to ‘act like you’re asleep’
Reyes told terrifying accounts of what happened inside the two classrooms.
Students earlier that day had attended an end-of-year ceremony, and some went home afterward. For others who stayed at school, Reyes was playing a movie, he told ABC, which also aired parts of his interview Monday on “World News Tonight with David Muir.”
Then the students heard gunshots – and asked him what was going on.
“And I said, ‘I don’t know what’s going on, but let’s go ahead and get under the table. Get under the table and act like you’re asleep,’ ” Reyes recalled to ABC.
“As they were doing that, and I was gathering them under the table and told them to act like they’re going to sleep, is about the time when I turned around and saw him standing there.”
The gunman opened fire, striking Reyes; one bullet went through his arm and lung, and another hit his back, ABC reported.
Reyes couldn’t move after being shot, he said, and the shooter then turned his gun on the students.
Officers could be heard outside the classroom, and a child in another classroom pleaded for police to help, Reyes said. But Reyes thinks by that time, officers had retreated down a hallway, he told ABC.
“One of the students from the next-door classroom was saying, ‘Officer, we’re in here. We’re in here,’ ” he said. “But they had already left.”
“I told myself, ‘I told my kids to act like they’re asleep, so I’m going to act like I’m asleep also,’ ” he recalled.
When the Border Patrol unit eventually came inside, “it was just bullets everywhere,” he told ABC.
“And then I just remember Border Patrol saying, ‘Get up, get up.’ And I couldn’t get up,” Reyes said.
Reyes was in room 111, and all students who were in the classroom at the time of the shooting were killed, he told the network. A student who survived the shooting has said he had been in room 111, according to The Texas Tribune. It wasn’t immediately clear how to reconcile the two statements.
‘I’m sorry. I tried my best’
Reyes had a message for the students’ parents.
“I’m sorry. I tried my best from what I was told to do. Please don’t be angry with me,” he told ABC through tears.
Reyes has taught for 17 years, according to ABC. At least seven of those years have been with the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, according to his district biography page.
No training could have prepared him or the students for the carnage they encountered, he said.
“It all happened too fast. Training, no training, all kinds of training – nothing gets you ready for this,” he said.
“We trained our kids to sit under the table, and that’s what I thought … at the time, but we set them up to be like ducks. …
“You can give us all the training you want, but … laws have to change,” he said. “It won’t ever change unless they change the laws.”
Reyes would like the legal age to buy a gun to be raised, ABC reported. The US Senate since the Uvalde attack has discussed such a shift.
“Nobody in this world deserves this kind of pain. … Nobody deserves this,” he told ABC. “I will go to the end of the world to make sure things get changed.”
CNN’s Travis Caldwell contributed to this report.