Students who survived the deadly school shooting at Robb Elementary School that killed 19 students and two teachers on Tuesday have described the harrowing moments after the gunman entered the school.
Chance Aguirre, 9, a third grade student at the school in Uvalde, Texas, said he and fellow students hid in the cafeteria when they heard shots ring out.
“Everybody was scared. We were all panicking because we didn’t know what was really happening,” he said in an account filmed by NBC affiliate WOAI of San Antonio.
The student described seeing what felt like “thousands of police and border patrol” entering the cafeteria while he and others were hiding behind a stage in the room. "We had to leave the school," he said.
'I told my friend to hide'
Speaking with CBS affiliate KENS of San Antonio, a fourth grader who appeared to have been in the classroom where the students were killed recalled the shooter entering the room and saying: "It's time to die."
The boy was not identified and NBC News was unable to verify his account.
“When I heard the shooting through the door, I told my friend to hide under something so he won’t find us,” the boy told KENS. “I was hiding hard. And I was telling my friend to not talk because he is going to hear us.”
The student said he and four others took cover under a table that had a tablecloth over it, which may have hidden them from the shooter's view.
“When the cops came, the cop said, ‘Yell if you need help,’” the boy said, according to KENS. "And one of the persons in my class said, ‘Help.’ The guy overheard and he came in and shot her.”
He added: “The cop barged into that classroom. The guy shot at the cop. And the cops started shooting.”
The young boy said that once the shooting stopped, he came out from under the table.
“I just opened the curtain. And I just put my hand out,” he told KENS. “I got out with my friend. I knew it was police. I saw the armor and the shield.”
The student credited his teachers, Irma Garcia and Eva Mireles, who both died in the school shooting, with saving the lives of the students who survived.
“They were nice teachers,” he said. “They went in front of my classmates to help. To save them.”
Student smeared blood on herself, pretended she was dead, aunt says
A fourth grade student who survived the shooting smeared blood on herself to pretend she was dead, her aunt said.
Speaking to NBC affiliate KPRC of Houston, Blanca Rivera said she was told by family that Miah Cerrillo, 11, had bullet fragments in her back.
“Miah got some blood and put it on herself so she could pretend that she was dead, her mom said that,” Rivera, who lives in the Houston area and is also the girl's godmother, told the station. “She saw her friend full of blood and she got blood and put it on herself.”
The girl’s teacher was Irma Garcia, one of two teachers at Robb Elementary who were killed in the attack, Rivera told the station.
'They’ve been practicing for this day for years'
One teacher at the school, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described her own harrowing experience trying to reassure her students they would be OK as they hid in their classroom.
She said her students had been watching a Disney film that morning as part of a year-end celebration when the sound of gunfire tore down the hallway. She shouted for her students to get under their desks as she raced to lock the classroom door — a moment she said the whole classroom was prepared for.
“They’ve been practicing for this day for years,” the teacher said, referring to active shooter exercises that have become a norm in U.S. schools. “They knew this wasn’t a drill. We knew we had to be quiet or else we were going to give ourselves away.”
Police eventually came to the classroom's rescue and the students were among those to survive the deadly shooting.
“Our children did not deserve this," the teacher said. "They were loved. Not only by their families, but their family at school.”