Injured 4th grader Miah Cerrillo was on the phone with a 911 operator when a flurry of gunfire came from the shooter at Robb Elementary School.
“He shoots,” she says simply at 12:21 p.m.
“Keep quiet, make sure everyone stays quiet,” the operator told him.
It will take another 29 minutes before the officers challenge the shooter and kill him.
At the time, armed responders were piled outside connecting classrooms 111 and 112, where they waited and talked and checked equipment and looked for tools until a team finally enters the rooms and kills the shooter.
Throughout the call, Miah and her classmate Khloie Torres – who both survived – ask that officers be sent to help save them from the massacre that killed 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas.
Little did they know, a total of 376 officers from 23 local, state and federal agencies were responding, many of them then within yards of them, their injured friends and teachers. At least one child and one teacher survived the initial attack but later died.
And now Miah’s parents, Abigale Veloz and Miguel Cerrillo, want all those officers to hear the call of their daughter, who was injured by shrapnel in the shoulders and head.
“If kids call in and say they’re hurt or in class, that shows you they really are cowards,” Cerrillo said of the responding officers.
“All the officers that were there should hear that audio so they can figure out what the hell the kids are going through, and those suckers are right outside.”
The chaotic and protracted May 24 response was decried as a failure for months. But full details of what happened and when are still being withheld and Texas’ top cop did not provide an update as expected during a town hall meeting last week. Instead, Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, listened to family members’ anger and acknowledged some mistakes, before saying his officers “did not disappoint the community” of Uvalde.
Miah’s parents contacted CNN after we leaked a story Tuesday about Miah Khloie’s classmate calling 911 and giving details of the dead and injured in Classroom 112 about 40 minutes before officers finally burst into the room to arrest the shooter and get the victims out.
Khloie’s father, Ruben Torres, praised his daughter’s actions and again likened them to the officers’ inaction after hearing the 911 call. “That day, the things she did were absolutely amazing,” he said of his daughter. Of the adults who responded, he said, “None of them had the courage that day.”
Excerpts published of a 10-year-old child describing the Uvalde massacre to the dispatcher
CNN obtained the audio of the 18-minute 911 call from a source and is using it with approval from Khloie and Miah’s parents. It was the call that should have ended any doubt or hesitation that the teenage shooter was active, wandering between the two connected classrooms, that children were trapped, injured and had to be rescued.
Wednesday was the first time Miah’s parents heard the call and they said it helped them better understand what Miah had told them that day and what she had been through.
They could hear him trying to help his teacher Eva Mireles, who was shot and later died, while giving their room number to Khloie, who was fairly new to Uvalde and the school. And when Khloie relays the operator’s directive to all shut up, Miah tries to silence her panicked and hurt fourth-year classmates.
And then they hear him come in, taking over from Khloie, with the same clear, polite requests.
“Hi, can you please send help?” Miah asks at 12:19 p.m., 46 minutes since the shooter was seen entering the room but still over 30 minutes since he was arrested.
“Are they in the building?” she repeatedly asks about the response of law enforcement. Her mother said Miah thought the officers were always trying to find a way to get closer to them, never imagining that they were stacked on the other side of the door, a few feet away.
Her family tried to stop her from learning more about the failed response, but last month they found part of the body camera video online showing the distraction, delay and lack of communication.
“She was so angry,” Veloz said of Miah when she found out. “She couldn’t believe they were right there.”
Miah was able to tell CNN a few days later how she smeared herself in blood and played dead hoping that the shooter would leave her alone if he came back from the next classroom. She even testified before the US Congresssending a video message to a House committee investigating gun violence when she said what she wanted was “to have safety.”
These days, Miah finds it difficult to open up to strangers, her mother said. The only people she trusts are her family.
Her parents said hearing her on the 911 call gave them “a picture in our heads” of what she told them.
“Now we understand why she doesn’t want to go anywhere,” Veloz said.
They still find bullet fragments embedded in his back, and the emotional toll is almost as visible.
“It’s not Miah anymore,” her mother said simply, remembering that her second child loved to play pranks with her siblings and is now afraid of the slightest noise.
It’s Miah’s birthday this week. She will be 12 on Friday. And his birthday wish, his mother says, is to shut up and get out of Uvalde for the day.