During the 77 minutes of bloodshed at a Texas elementary school, teacher Eva Mireles spent some of her last breaths on the phone with her husband, telling him she was dying, a county official said. ‘Uvalde to the New York Times.
But her husband – school district police officer Ruben Ruiz – was unable to save his wife and 20 other victims who were massacred last week at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.
The officer’s chief, School District Police Chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, decided not to enter nearby classrooms where a gunman slaughtered 19 children and two teachers, including Mireles.
During the bloodbath, a negotiator tried to call the shooter but did not answer, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin told reporters on Wednesday.
“They tried every number they could find it was associated with,” McLaughlin said.
Now this town engulfed in grief is also plagued by shifting police stories, unanswered questions and the horror of knowing that 21 victims were trapped with a gunman for more than an hour – despite repeated calls to 911 using inside classrooms.
Mireles, a fourth-grade teacher, was on the phone with Ruiz during the massacre, Uvalde County Judge Bill Mitchell told The New York Times after being briefed by sheriff’s deputies.
Ruiz was among many law enforcement officers responding to the school during this attack.
“She is in the classroom and he is outside. It’s terrifying,” Mitchell told The Times on Wednesday.
In Texas, county judges are the county’s executive and top official.
Mitchell said he did not know the exact words exchanged between the teacher and the school district police officer. But the main message was devastating.
“He’s outside hearing his wife, ‘I’m dying,’” Mitchell told The Times.
He said he did not know if Ruiz passed the details of his phone call with his wife to Arredondo, who was the incident commander during the massacre.
The director of the Texas Department of Public Safety said the incident commander believed the scene was no longer an active shooter situation, but a barricaded person scenario. We do not know why.
Established law enforcement policy, created following the 1999 Columbine school shooting, calls on police to arrest the shooter as quickly as possible in an active shooter situation.
Speaking exclusively to CNN on Wednesday, Arredondo said he would not release any further information during the funeral.
“We’re going to be respectful to the family,” said Arredondo, who was sworn in as the new city council member on Tuesday.
“We’re going to get it done eventually,” the school district police chief said. “Whenever this is done and the families stop crying, obviously we will.”
In this small town, everyone knows someone deeply scarred by the massacre.
After Border Patrol tactical agents finally broke into the classrooms and killed 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos, a Texas DPS trooper saw the carnage and found a seriously injured friend.
It was Mireles – the teacher who told her husband she was dying.
“It was an honor to spend the last moment with Eva as she left this Earth to go to a greater place,” DPS Trooper Juan Maldonado told CNN affiliate KSAT.
Maldonado met Mireles and her husband years ago when their daughters joined the same soccer team, KSAT reported.
“She protected her students,” Maldonado said. “She’s a hero for everyone, and she’s a hero for the family and for Uvalde.”
Mireles’ funeral is scheduled for Friday.
The funerals of the other slain teacher, Irma Garcia, and her husband, Joe Garcia, were held on Wednesday. Joe Garcia died of a heart attack two days after his wife was shot. The couple’s family attributed his death to a broken heart.
Local, state and federal investigators will wade through the ever-changing details of the massacre to try to figure out what went so horribly wrong.
Currently, the Texas Rangers are investigating the mass tragedy. Once the agency completes its investigation, Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Busbee said she will review the report and determine how to proceed.
“The Rangers will complete their investigation. I will review it and then we will see if there are any criminal charges that need to be brought,” Busbee said.
At the same time, the US Department of Justice said it would review law enforcement’s response to the murderous rampage.
The review aims “to provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses that day, and to identify lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare for and respond to events.” active shooting,” a Justice Department spokesman said.
Although the investigations are not complete, some notions are very clear, said Thor Eells, executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association (NTAO).
He said the incident commander’s belief that the shooter was no longer active and the decision not to burst into the classroom immediately were “100% wrong”.
“If you’re in a classroom with innocent victims and I know shots were fired, I have to hire you,” Eells said. “Even if you stop shooting, I will enter the room so we can begin administering life-saving aid to any potential victims.”