(CNN) — Miah Cerrillo, a fourth-grader who was injured, was on the phone with an emergency operator when gunfire rang out at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
“He’s shooting,” Miah is heard saying at 12:21 p.m.
“Be quiet, make sure everyone is quiet,” the operator tells her.
It would be an additional 29 minutes before officers caught and killed the shooter.
By that point, armed officers were lined up outside the connected classrooms 111 and 112, where they waited, talked, checked equipment and searched for tools until eventually the team entered the classrooms and killed the attacker.
Throughout the call, Miah and her classmate Khloie Torres, who survived, plead for agents to be sent to help save them from the Uvalde massacre that left 19 children and two teachers dead.
Little did they know that as many as 376 personnel from 23 local, state and federal agencies responded to the incident, many of whom were just steps away from them, their injured friends and teachers. At least one child and a teacher survived the attack but later died.
And now, Miah’s parents, Abigale Veloz and Miguel Cerrillo, want all those agents to heed the call of their daughter, who was wounded by shrapnel in the shoulders and head.
“If kids call and say they’re hurt or in a classroom, that shows they’re really cowards,” Cerrillo said of the responding officers.
“All the cops that were there should listen to this audio so they can understand the hell the kids are going through and these morons are out there.”
The chaotic and protracted response on May 24 was condemned for months as a failure. But all the details of what happened and when are still under wraps, and a Texas police official did not provide an update as expected at a public meeting last week. Instead, Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, heard the anger of family members and acknowledged some mistakes, before saying his officers “did not let the community” of Uvalde down.
Understanding your daughter’s pain
Miah’s parents contacted CNN after we broke a story Tuesday about Miah’s classmate Khloie calling 911 and giving details of the dead and injured in Room 112 about 40 minutes before the cops were finally called in to stop the gunman. and removed the victims.
Khloe’s father, Ruben Torres, praised his daughter’s actions and again compared them to the officers’ inaction after hearing the 911 call. “That day, the things he did were absolutely unbelievable,” he said of his daughter. Of the adults who responded, he said, “None of them had the courage that day.”
CNN obtained audio of the 18-minute 911 call from a source and is using it with the permission of Khloe and Miah’s parents. It’s a call that should have ended any doubt or hesitation that the teenage attacker was active, wandering between the two connected classrooms, that the children were trapped, injured and in need of rescue.
On Wednesday, Miah’s parents heard the call for the first time and said it helped them understand what Miah told them about that day and what she went through.
She could be heard trying to help her teacher Eva Mireles, who had been shot and later died, while also giving her room number to Khloie, who was new to Uvalde and the school. And when Khloie broadcasts the operator’s order for everyone to be quiet, Miah tries to silence her fellow quarterbacks who are terrified and hurt.
And then they hear her getting in line, picking up Khloie, with the same clear and polite demands.
“Hello, can you send help?” Miah asks at 12:19 p.m., 46 minutes since the gunman was seen entering the room, but another 30 minutes before he was arrested.
“Are they in the building?”, he repeatedly asks about the response of law enforcement. Her mother said Miah believed the officers were still trying to find a way to get to them, not imagining they were piled up on the other side of the door, just a few feet away.
Her family tried to protect her from learning more about the botched response, but last month she found part of a body camera video online showing the distraction, delay and miscommunication.
“I was so angry,” Veloz said of Miah when she found out. “She couldn’t believe they were there.”
after the massacre
A few days later, Miah was able to tell CNN how she smeared herself with blood and played dead, hoping the attacker would leave her alone if he returned from the classroom next door. He even testified before the US Congress, in a video message sent to the House Committee investigating gun violence, in which he said he wanted to “make sure”.
Miah has a hard time opening up to strangers these days, her mom said. The only people he trusts are his relatives.
Her parents said hearing her on the 911 call gave them a “mental picture” of what she told them.
Now we understand why he doesn’t want to go anywhere, Veloz said.
They still find bullet fragments lodged in his back, and the emotional toll is almost as visible.
“She’s not Miah anymore,” her mother said simply, recalling that her daughter used to play pranks on her siblings and was now afraid of loud noises.
This week is Miah’s birthday. He will turn 12 on Friday. And her birthday wish, her mother said, is to calm down and leave Uvalde that day.