“I’m in Room 112,” the little girl tells the person on the other end of the line. “Please hurry. There is a lot of dead bodies.”The clear plea comes from Khloie Torres, who was 10 years old at the time and was trapped at Robb Elementary School with a gunman who had killed her friends and a teacher. She made the call at 12:10 p.m. Khloie, who is now 11, made it.
“Please get help. I don’t wanna die. My teacher is dead. Oh, my God.” The message is sent to the dozens, and soon hundreds, of police officers who are already on their way to the school in Uvalde, Texas. It’s been more than 30 minutes since the teenager entered the school and shot his way into rooms 111 and 112.
At 12:50 p.m., 40 minutes after Khloie tells the police what happened, a strike team bursts into the room and challenges the gunman. CNN has heard this 911 call and others made by the same girl and her classmates, in which they whispered information and begged for help. It should have been clear from the call that the teen shooter was roaming between the two connected classrooms, that kids were trapped and hurt, and that they needed to be saved.
Almost the whole police response has been criticized, from the beginning to the end. Since the massacre on May 24, agencies have blamed each other for things like not following up on the first attempt to go into the classroom when the gunman fired back, treating the suspect as barricaded but not an active threat, and having to wait a long time for equipment and specialists.
- 3 In Critical Condition After Shooting Injures 6 At East Oakland School, Authorities Say
- Armed Robbery Shooting At Victoria Gardens Mall In Rancho Cucamonga
On that day, 19 kids and 2 teachers died, but at least one adult and one kid did not die right away. Col. Steven McCraw, who is in charge of the Department of Public Safety in Texas, has said that his department has made mistakes, most recently last week when he spoke to the families of people who had died. However, he has insisted that his department as a whole has not let the community down.
CNN got the calls from a source, and Khloie’s parents gave their permission to use parts of the calls. Sources also told the families of the people who died in the massacre that this story was on the way.
Ruben Torres, Khloie’s father, was a Marine and said he knew how hard it was to give good information when under fire. “That day, the things that she did were absolutely incredible,” he said of his daughter. Of the adults who responded, he said: “None of them had courage that day.”
An Agonizing Wait
“I need help … please. Have y’all captured the person?” At 12:12, the fourth-grader asks. A few minutes later, he said, “You want me to open the door now?”
The dispatcher tells Khloie over and over again to stay quiet, keep her scared and hurt friends quiet, and wait.
“I’m telling everyone to be quiet but nobody is listening to me,” she tells the operator. “I understand what to do in these situations. My dad taught me when I was a little girl. Send help.”
At 12:15 p.m., she calls 911 and says that her teacher, Eva Mireles, is still alive but has been shot. She asks for an ambulance.
Outside, a total of 376 armed police officers are getting together.
Just now–(Trigger warning, 911 call audio) For the first time there are recordings of emergency calls between police and dispatchers that show the urgency and desperation of children at Robb Elementary. In chilling, muffled 911 calls, they begged for help. Full story: https://t.co/hchOTVRGjN
— Pablo De La Rosa (@pblodlr) November 2, 2022
At 12:12 p.m. the radio call goes out: “Uvalde to any units: Be advised we do have a child on the line … room 12 [sic]. Is anybody inside of the building at this time?”
“Go ahead with that child’s information,” an answer comes back.
“The child is advising he [sic] is in in the room full of victims, full of victims at this moment.”
“10-4,” says the confirmation.
Audio from body cameras worn by officers inside the school makes it clear that the announcement was made.
At the beginning of the huge response to the school shooting, there was a lot of confusion. The gunman had shot his grandmother in the head and crashed a truck near the school, both of which led to emergency calls.
Once the shooter was inside the school, it wasn’t clear if he went to an office or a classroom or if he brought any victims with him.
But Khloie and some of her classmates who answered the phone or tried to call for help on their own made it clear that they needed help. as well.
The news gets out to more people than just those who heard it first.
“Supposedly one kid called as it was underway. He’s been in that room for an hour now,” an officer tells a newly arrived responder, apparently referring to the shooter.
“We don’t know if he has anybody in the room with him, do we?” asks an officer in the hallway outside the classrooms. “He does,” comes the reply. “Eight or nine children.”
“We’re taking too long”
While some people are talking about gas masks, shields, and a command post, a Border Patrol emergency medic shows up. He knows about the kids, too.
He yells, “EMT! EMT!” and asks how to get to the victims in “Room 12.” One cop gives a shrug. Another person who has been at the scene for more than 20 minutes says, “No, we hadn’t heard that.” This person seems to be talking about children who have been hurt.
The medic tells them: “They just had a kid in room 12, multiple victims, room 12.” He goes into the hallway, where he finds more officers huddled together. “They said kids, room 12.”
People talk about trying to find a master key. Then I heard more shots.
Officers with long guns, helmets, and body armour move a little closer, then stop.
“F**k. We’re taking too long,” the medic says.
Khloie starts her third call to 911 from inside the classroom.
“Can you tell the police to come to my room?” she asks. And again, minutes later, “Can you send a policeman in now, please?”
She is told to be quiet and wait. She is also told to keep her classmates, some of whom seem to be in pain, quiet.
She told the dispatcher that she thought she heard police in the hallway. Again, she was told to be quiet.
Later, Khloie tells the police that she was using her teacher’s phone and that she didn’t have to unlock it to make the emergency call because it was just like her dad’s phone.
She also said that she had time to try to help her friends while the shooter was in the classroom next door, where he killed all the students and hurt the teacher.
“I stood up to look for Band-Aids ‘cause my friend had a big cut.”
Then, she hid again under a table because she thought the shooter might come back to her room.
The girl is on the phone as the police finally break into the next-door room. Loud, prolonged bursts of gunfire can be heard as the dispatcher tells her: “Stay down. Do not get up. Stay down. Do not, do not move.”
The girl makes it. She and other injured students are taken to the hospital on a school bus, where she can tell one of the responders that she was on the phone.
“I was trying not to cry,” she said.
Follow us on Nog Magazine for more news like this.
Jessa Martin is the author of Nogmagazine, A professional in writing by day, and novelist by night, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University and her master of arts in media studies from the New School. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.