11-Year-Old Uvalde Survivor Tells Congress, ‘I Don’t Want It to Happen Again’

Miah Cerrillo, a fourth grade student at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and survivor of the mass shooting appears on a screen during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on June 8, 2022. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Two weeks after a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school, members of the U.S. House of Representatives heard from a student who survived the attack by covering herself in the blood of one of her classmates. She was one of several members of the Uvalde community who gave heart-wrenching and at times graphic testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform Wednesday as part of a hearing focused on the issue of gun violence in the United States.

Miah Cerrillo, a fourth-grader at Robb Elementary School, who survived the shooting in her classroom, spoke in a prerecorded video about what she experienced that day.

Cerrillo described the moment when one of her teachers encountered the gunman, who was in the hallway outside the classroom. The teacher told the students to hide, which they did, shielding themselves behind the teacher’s desk and some backpacks. After shooting out the window in one of the classroom’s doors, the gunman entered the room through an adjoining door, said “Good night,” and shot Cerrillo’s teacher in the head.

“When I went to the backpacks, he shot my friend that was next to me. And I thought he was going to come back to the room, so I grabbed the blood and put it all over me,” Cerrillo said.

Cerrillo said she grabbed her teacher’s phone and called 911, asking for help.

In the video, Cerrillo was asked by a man off camera what she wants. She replied, “To have security.” When asked if she feels safe at school, she shook her head. The man asked why. “’Cause I don’t want it to happen again,” she said.

At the end of the video, a visibly emotional Miguel Cerrillo, Miah’s father, was given the opportunity to address the committee in the room.

“Today, I come because I could’ve lost my baby girl,” Miguel said. “She’s not the same little girl that I used to play with, hang around with, and do everything because she was Daddy’s little girl.”

Dr. Roy Guerrero, a pediatrician who attended the school as a child, described the horror of what he witnessed at Uvalde Memorial Hospital that day.

Guerrero said the day of the shooting started out as a normal Tuesday, with mothers calling for “coughs, boogers, sports physicals.” But at 12:30 p.m., things quickly changed. He said he received a text from a colleague from a trauma center in San Antonio who asked why pediatric surgeons were on call for a mass shooting in Uvalde.

“I raced to the hospital to find parents outside yelling children’s names in desperation and sobbing as they begged for any news related to their child. Those mothers’ cries I will never get out of my head,” Guerrero said.

Guerrero described the gruesome sight that awaited him as he entered the ER.

“Two children whose bodies had been pulverized by bullets fired at them, decapitated, whose flesh had been ripped apart so that the only clue as to their identities was the blood-stained cartoon clothes clinging to them. Clinging to life and finding none,” he said.

Guerrero implored public officials to take action, saying that it’s the job of politicians to keep children safe from gun violence.

“In this case, you are the doctors and our country is the patient. We are lying on the operating table, riddled with bullets like the children of Robb Elementary and so many schools. We are bleeding out, and you are not there,” Guerrero said.

He continued, “My oath as a doctor means that I signed up to save lives. I do my job. And I guess it turns out that I am here to plead, to beg, to please, please do yours.”

The members of the committee also heard testimony from Kimberly Rubio and Felix Rubio, the parents of Alexandria “Lexi” Rubio, one of the students killed in the shooting at the school. The couple sat side by side, testifying remotely via video call.

Kimberly spoke about how, on the morning of the shooting, she and her husband dropped off Lexi, 10, and her brother Julian at school and later returned to attend their children’s end-of-year ceremonies. Lexi was given the Good Citizen award and recognized for receiving straight A’s at school; her parents promised to buy her ice cream that evening to celebrate.

“In the reel that keeps scrolling across my memories, she turns her head and smiles back at us to acknowledge my promise and then we left. I left my daughter at that school, and that decision will haunt me for the rest of my life,” Kimberly Rubio said, holding back tears as she spoke.

The Rubios left the school, with Kimberly returning to the office of the Uvalde Leader-News, where she works. Soon, the newsroom received word of a shooting in the vicinity of the school. She was alerted by her son’s teacher that their class was safe, secured in their classroom. But Kimberly had no word on Lexi’s condition.

The family checked local hospitals with no luck, so Lexi’s parents decided to return to the school, running a mile, Kimberly in her bare feet, her sandals in hand. After spending some time there, the Rubios were driven by a San Antonio firefighter to the city’s civic center, where authorities were gathering the families who had yet to be reunited with their children. It was here that they learned that Lexi was one of the students who had been killed.

“We don’t want you to think of Lexi as just a number. She was intelligent, compassionate, and athletic. She was quiet, shy, unless she had a point to make,” Kimberly Rubio said. “When she knew she was right, and she often was, she stood her ground. She was firm, direct, voice unwavering.”

Rubio said that she and her husband “stand for Lexi” and called for a series of gun-control measures: a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, raising the minimum age to purchase such weapons to 21, red-flag laws, an expansion of background checks, and a repeal of the liability immunity of gun manufacturers.

“We understand that, for some reason, to some people, to people with money, to people who fund political campaigns, that guns are more important than children. So, at this moment, we ask for progress,” she said.

Rubio said that she wanted the committee to know about the kind of person Lexi would’ve been had been if given the chance. She talked about her daughter’s dream of attending St. Mary’s University in San Antonio on a softball scholarship as a math major and later going to law school.

“That opportunity was taken from her. She was taken from us,” she said.

She went on, “Somewhere out there, there is a mom listening to our testimony thinking, I can’t even imagine their pain, not knowing that our reality will one day be hers. Unless we act now.”

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Uvalde Survivor Testifies: ‘I Don’t Want It to Happen Again’