(Reuters/CCTV/KENS) – The day May 24 will go down as the darkest day in lives for people of Uvalde, including the Fierro family, who thought they may never see their 9-year-old daughter again.
“I cried when I held them, when I was able to hold them again. Because I knew that a lot of people, parents were not going to be able to hold their children,” said Martin Fierro, father of Texas school shooting survivor.
He explained the chilling moments of his daughter Eliana Izabela Fierro’s narrow escape.
“They were in the cafeteria and when they did the drill, the little kids and the teachers turned off the lights and they all hid,” said Fierro. They hid behind the curtains of the auditorium. By her account, she told my wife that they heard somebody come in and say, ‘Come out little children, come out little children, it’s okay.'”
Fortunately, his daughter and her classmates did not walk out as they knew it was not the police. It was the shooter asking them to come out.
“He just walked in, and asked, and then walked out. I think a policeman was chasing him, because after he left, a policeman came in and went behind the stage and he saw us,” said Eliana Izabela Fierro.
Both Martin and his wife have spent their whole lives in Uvalde, and they grew up with the other parents of the victims like one big family. They mourned the deceased like their own.
At one of several memorial sites that have been set up across the town since the horrific tragedy, people have been coming not just from nearby communities, but many other cities to lay down flowers, gift cards, and toys to pay their respects to the victims.
The latest revelations on the missteps taken by law enforcement in response to the school shooting have only aggravated the anger and frustration among the community.
“Families were fighting to get in. The shooter had an hour, almost an hour, 40 minutes. People were fighting. So there’s a lot of questions right now,” said Fierro.
Some parents hope their tragedy would be an eye-opener for the gun violence epidemic in the country.
“Who wouldn’t want to see a stricter mandate concerning gun violence, not allowing anybody to just go and buy [guns], a young boy to just go and buy. More background checks,” Fierro said.
The video below tells another story- this one, of a dad who helped police get into the school and save children’s lives. He had rushed from work to the school when he learned of the attack, and found a handful of law enforcement officers near his daughter’s wing of the building.
He offered his help, and borrowed bolt cutters from a neighbor near the school to help police get past the locked gate. Police then led several classrooms of students to safety. They escaped to a faculty parking area and put the kids on buses.
“After that I finally saw my daughter and my heart just dropped,” he said.
His highest praise is reserved for the teachers.
“Those are the true heroes right there,” the father said. “Those are the true heroes, for them to protect their kids, kids that are not even theirs but their students. That just shows beyond what kind of courageous persons they were.”
The father asked not to be identified for safety’s sake.