An 11-year-old survivor of the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school told her family she smeared blood on her body and pretended to be dead to avoid being shot by the gun-toting teen.
Miah Cerrillo was one of dozens of fourth-grade students barricaded in a classroom at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on Tuesday, where an armed teenager killed 19 children and two teachers after opening fire on the unprotected group.
Salvador Ramos, the 18-year-old shooter who wandered the school’s perimeter for 12 minutes before entering, was ultimately shot and killed by an elite Border Patrol tactical unit nearly 90 minutes after entering unhindered through an apparently open door.
Miah’s aunt, Blanca Rivera, told NBC-DFW in a recent interview that her niece is having trouble getting over the graphic images she had to bear witness to on Tuesday, and the terrible hardships she had to go through to survive. .
“Around midnight, my sister-in-law called me and she was crying, ‘I think she just shook Miah. I think she has to accept that reality now,” she told the Dallas-Fort Worth news station.
That reality that the 11-year-old has just come to terms with now is the shady actions she bravely undertook in an effort to ensure her safety.
Her aunt told the station that her niece saw one of her friends covered in blood and smeared some blood on her own body, to appear dead and hopefully, in the eyes of the shooter, no longer a objective.
“Miah drew some blood and put it on herself so she could pretend she was dead,” Rivera added. “It’s too much for me to reproduce that scene over and over again, but that’s what my sister-in-law said, that she saw her friend full of her blood, took it and smeared it on her.”
The 11-year-old girl’s life-saving strategy potentially prevented her from receiving fatal injuries, but it was not a 100 percent guarantee of escaping injury.
“My brother said he had bullet fragments in his back,” his aunt told the news station, although she has already been released from the hospital.
Miah’s terrifying brush with death is just one of many horrific stories that have emerged in recent days since the deadly mass shooting in Texas.
An anonymous fourth grader from the same class explained in harrowing detail how he managed to evade the 18-year-old’s gunfire by hiding under a table with a long tablecloth.
“When I heard the shots through the door, I told my friend to hide under something so he wouldn’t find us,” the boy told KENS5. “I hid very well. And I told my friend not to speak because he was going to listen to us.”
The boy explained how, even after the officers broke down the door, the children who managed to survive until then were not completely safe.
“When the police arrived, one said, ‘Shout if you need help!’” he said. “And one of the people in my class said ‘Help.’ The guy heard and came in and shot him.”
Actions taken by responding officers, both inside and outside the school, recently drew the ire of grieving parents, community members and sparked a national outcry over how local police handled the mass shooting.
The latest official details from the DPS (Texas Department of Public Safety) about Tuesday’s mass shooting were very different from the initial police reports and raised questions about the security measures at the elementary school and the response of law enforcement.
Officers, for example, allegedly waited outside the school for up to an hour before attempting to enter and disarm Ramos. Sean Burke, a recently retired Massachusetts school resource officer and president of the School Safety Advocacy Council, which trains school districts on how to respond to shootings, told NBC in a recent interview that this was “ a disgusting fact” if it turns out to be true.