The day before, the Texas authorities had made their mea culpa, admitting that the police had made a “bad decision” by not entering the building quickly.
It took about an hour on Tuesday for the police to put an end to the massacre, despite several calls from children asking for an intervention. The 19 agents on the spot were waiting for the intervention of a specialized unit of the border police.
Inside, the children were locked up with the shooter, Salvador Ramos, barely 18 years old.
Upon entering the room, the latter had closed the door, telling the children: “you are all going to die”, before opening fire, said a survivor, Samuel Salinas, 10, told the ABC channel on Friday.
“I think he was aiming at me,” testified the child, but a chair between him and the shooter blocked the bullet.
In the room on the floor covered in blood, Samuel Salinas, in order not to be targeted by the shots, tried to “play dead”.
– “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 a comrade, whose corpse was next to her, she explained to CNN, in unfilmed testimony.
She had just seen the teenager kill his teacher, after saying “good night”.
Another student, Daniel, told the Washington Post newspaper that while the victims waited for the police to come rescue them, no one shouted.
“I was scared and stressed, because the bullets almost hit me.”
Her teacher, who was injured in the attack but survived, whispered to the students to “stay calm” and “stay still”.
A child, also hit by a bullet, had gently asked her teacher to call the police, saying that she “bleeded a lot”, related Daniel, who can no longer sleep alone and has nightmares.
The children who survived “are traumatized, and they will have to live with that all their lives,” said his mother, Briana Ruiz.
Samuel Salinas also said he had nightmares, in which he saw the shooter. The idea of going back to school, or even seeing your classmates again, is still frightening.
“I’m not looking forward,” he assured, adding that he wanted to “stay at home” and “rest”.
– Biden on Sunday –
These testimonies only accentuated the controversy around the reaction of the police.
Pressed by reporters to explain their much-criticized response time, Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said Friday that law enforcement believed “there may be no no more survivors”.
However, the police received numerous calls from several people in the two affected classrooms, including one from a child at 12:16 p.m., more than half an hour before the police intervention at 12:50 p.m., warning that ” eight to nine students were alive,” McCraw said.
On Sunday, the President of the United States and his wife Jill Biden will go to Uvalde, to “share the mourning” of the inhabitants of this small town upset by one of the worst massacres by firearm in recent years in the country.
The shooting, described in the American press as the “new Sandy Hook”, in reference to the appalling massacre at a Connecticut elementary school in 2012, has awakened the traumas of America.
The faces of the very young victims, aged 9 to 11, broadcast repeatedly on television, and the testimonies of their collapsed relatives have moved the country, relaunching a wave of calls for better regulation of firearms.
The Democratic president, who has regularly denounced the “epidemic” of gun violence, has so far failed to pass major gun control legislation.