Roy Guerrero, a pediatrician in Uvalde, Texas, who rushed to treat wounded children after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, gave gut-wrenching testimony before Congress on Wednesday, as he described the horrific injuries on the third- and fourth-grade students.
“I know I’ll never forget what I saw that day,” Guerrero said during the emotional hearing on gun violence.
Guerrero testified that he raced to Uvalde Memorial Hospital after getting a text message from a colleague at the San Antonio Trauma Center about the shooting. When he reached the hospital, the pediatrician, who had himself attended Robb Elementary, recalled hearing parents desperately yelling out their children's names and begging for information outside the building.
“Those mothers’ cries, I will never get out of my head,” Guerrero said.
He also gave a graphic and gutting account of what he witnessed as he walked through the emergency room that day.
“Two children whose bodies had been pulverized by bullets fired at them, decapitated, whose flesh had been ripped apart that the only clue to their identities was the blood-splattered cartoon clothes still clinging to them,” he said. They were, he added, “clinging for life and finding none.”
The shooter killed 19 children and two teachers during the rampage.
Guerrero testified that he examined some of the wounded victims. He also saw a little girl he had previously treated and known all her life, 11-year-old Miah Cerrillo.
He said he saw "sweet Miah" sitting in the hospital in shock, her body shaking. Miah previously told CNN that she had smeared her classmate’s blood all over her, pretending to be dead as she feared the shooter’s return.
“The white Lilo & Stitch shirt that she wore was covered in blood, and her shoulder was bleeding from a shrapnel injury,” Guerrero recalled.
In previously recorded testimony shown to Congress on Wednesday, Miah described the gunman entering her classroom and shooting her teacher and her friend who was right next to her.
“I thought he was going to come back to the room so I grabbed [the classmate's] blood and put it all over me,” Miah said.
She testified that she did not feel safe at school anymore.
“I don’t want it to happen again," Miah said.
The testimony from gun violence survivors and victims' families came as Congress is scheduled to vote on H.R. 7910, the Protecting Our Kids Act, on Wednesday, which would raise the purchasing age of semi-automatic guns from 18 to 21 and require background checks on all firearm sales among other gun safety gun control measures.
Felix Rubio and Kimberly Rubio, whose 10-year-old daughter, Alexandria Rubio, was killed in the Uvalde shooting, urged Congress to take action on gun violence and specifically asked for a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, along with stricter background checks, the repeal of gun manufacturer’s immunity, and to raise the purchasing age of assault rifles to 21.
“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,” a teary-eyed Kimberly Rubio testified at the hearing. “At this moment, we ask for progress.”
Rubio closed her statement with an appeal to mothers who might be listening to the day’s hearing.
“Somewhere out there there's 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," she said.
The hearing took place as Attorney General Merrick Garland announced details of the Department of Justice’s review of law enforcement’s response to the Uvalde shooting.
Local police agencies have come under fire for the changing narrative of their response to the mass shooting, as well as the disclosure that officers waited for more than an hour before entering the classroom that the shooter had barricaded himself in, even as the children were calling 911 from the inside.
“We have been promised, ensured, and welcomed with respect to cooperation by every level of law enforcement — state, federal, and local,” Garland said on Wednesday. “We don’t expect any problems.”
Justice Department officials will visit the school and interview witnesses, families, law enforcement, and school officials, Garland said. The department will release a report to the public once the review — made at the request of Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin — is completed.
“Innocent children all over the country today are dead because laws and policy allows people to buy weapons before they’re legally old enough to even buy a pack of beer," Guerrero said in his testimony. “They’re dead because restrictions have been allowed to lapse.”