Things That Matter

Uvalde Teacher Who Survived Shooting Blames Local Police: ‘They’re Cowards’

Arnulfo Reyes, a third and fourth-grade teacher at Robb Elementary School who’s currently recovering from two gunshot wounds he sustained during the shooting two weeks ago, thinks that Salvador Ramos isn’t the only one responsible for the 21 deaths that day.

The morning of May 24 started like any other. As the students, who had already finished their finals, prepared for summer vacation, Reyes decided it was a good time to watch a movie, the animated “The Addams Family” from 2019.

“It was going to be a good day,” Reyes told ABC News. “There was nothing unusual that day, we were just walking back to the classroom… to watch the rest of the movie.”

By the day’s end, Reyes’ entire class of 11 children would be dead, and he would end up in the hospital with two gunshot wounds, one through his arm and lung, the other through his back. “I feel so bad for the parents because they lost a child,” Reyes told ABC anchor Amy Robach. “But they lost one child. I lost 11 that day, all at one time.”

He recounted his experience not only about the shooting but with the police response that followed; Reyes places the blame squarely on the Uvalde Police Department for failing to act. “They’re cowards,” Reyes said. “They sit there and did nothing for our community. They took a long time to go in… I will never forgive them.”

The day of the shooting, it was reported that Uvalde PD waited outside the school for upwards of one hour, going as far as to arrest parents who planned to rush the school themselves, hoping to save their children.

Throughout his recovery, Reyes has made it clear he plans to dedicate his life to the children and co-workers he lost that day. “The only thing that I know is that I won’t let these children and my co-workers die in vain,” he said. “I will go to the end of the world to make sure things get changed. If that’s what I have to do for the rest of my life, I will do it.”

In the weeks leading up to the shooting, Reyes had safety concerns related to the school’s regularly scheduled active shooter drills. On the day of the shooting, it was as if all that preparation had gone out the window, with protocol failures every step of the way. Reyes had also complained about his door, which had a broken latch that wouldn’t shut and lock properly.

“When that would happen, I would tell my principal, ‘Hey, I’m going to get in trouble again, they’re going to come and tell you that I left my door unlocked, which I didn’t,'” he said. “But the latch was stuck. So, it was just an easy fix.”

An officer walks outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 25, 2022.
An officer walks outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 25, 2022. Courtesy of Getty Images

Still, Reyes says no amount of training could’ve prepared Robb Elementary for what took place, and that more training is not the answer.

“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 of at the time. But we set them up to be like ducks.”

Instead, the only real solutions will come from fundamental changes to how guns are purchased and owned in the United States.

Reyes said he’s not against people owning guns, but that common-sense legislation is the only way to stop this from happening again. “If you want to buy a gun, you want to own a gun, that’s fine,” he said. “But the age limit has to change. And I think that they need to do more background checks on it. Things just have to change. It must change.”

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