'I hear voices screaming': Uvalde teacher calls deadly massacre ‘longest 35 minutes' of her life

The Texas teacher, who didn't want to reveal her identity, arrived at the door with eyes swollen from hours of sobbing and nearly no sleep


                            'I hear voices screaming': Uvalde teacher calls deadly massacre ‘longest 35 minutes' of her life
19 students and 2 adults were killed, with the gunman fatally shot by law enforcement at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
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UVALDE, TEXAS: It had been around 28 hours and 45 minutes after a gunman, 18, opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing at least 19 children and two teachers. The terror was characterized by one of the school's teachers as "the longest 35 minutes" of her life. Salvador Ramos, 18, was identified as the shooter by authorities. A long rifle was used by the gunman to slaughter 19 children and two adults inside the elementary school. 

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NBC News reported that the teacher agreed to talk with a reporter on the condition of anonymity because district administrators had told staff members not to engage with the media, she said. Nothing feels safe or normal to her right now, she stated. The teacher arrived at her door with eyes swollen from hours of sobbing and nearly no sleep. “What do you want me to say?” she questioned the reporter. “That I can’t eat? That all I hear are their voices screaming? And I can’t help them?” Her students had been enjoying a Disney movie as part of their year-end celebration in the school on Tuesday, 24 May, when she heard the noises. She knew precisely what it was when she heard gunshots down the hall. She yelled at her students to hide beneath their desks and raced to close the door to her classroom. The children did precisely as they were told, she stated.

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“They’ve been practicing for this day for years,” the teacher said, alluding to active shooter drills, which have become as much a part of American public education as arithmetic, science, and reading. “They knew this wasn’t a drill. We knew we had to be quiet or else we were going to give ourselves away.”

The teacher sat in the center of the room, on the ground, and the students crouched under their desks, remaining silent as their wounded classmates screamed down the corridor. She stated that she attempted to maintain her composure, to be capable of standing up for them.

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She described the time as "the longest 35 minutes of my life." When a few students began to weep, she beckoned for them to come to sit next to her. She took their hands in hers and murmured to them to pray quietly. She tried to indicate to the students, without saying anything, that everything was well. We're going to be just fine. Finally, officers approached the classroom from the outside and shattered the windows. The teacher instructed her students to form a line. Quickly, yet in a well-ordered manner. Every day during lunch and recess, they do the same thing. The teacher took each of her student's hands in hers and led them out the window one after another.

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“After the last kid, I turned around to ensure everyone was out,” the teacher expressed. “I knew I had to go quickly, but I wasn’t leaving until I knew for sure.”

That afternoon, she reunited with her kids at a different school facility across town, trying to console those who were anxious about their best friends or relatives in the classroom down the hall. Those who may or may not have made it via a window."Thank you for keeping my baby safe," the parents messaged the teacher later when the shooting's unimaginable toll became clear. “But it’s not just their baby,” the teacher stated, weeping on her front porch. “That’s my baby, too. They are not my students. They are my children.”

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“I want you to say this in your article,” the teacher said before she pulled her screen door closed. “Our children did not deserve this. They were loved. Not only by their families but their family at school.”

The schoolteacher hasn't even begun to consider what the coming school year would be like, or whether she will even be able to return. There will be funerals to attend first. Interviews with police, she claims, will never be able to explain why someone would shoot up a classroom filled with children.

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According to AFP, this was the eighth mass shooting this year, and it occurred 10 days after another 18-year-old slaughtered 10 African Americans at a supermarket in New York. The tragedy is likely to re-ignite the debate over guns, public safety, and civil liberties. Ramos was born and raised in Uvalde, a largely Latino community of around 16,000 people located 75 miles (120 kilometres) from the Mexican border and 85 miles (135 kilometres) from San Antonio. Ramos, a high school dropout, had no criminal record or history of mental illness.

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