A mom in Uvalde who says she was handcuffed by law enforcement while trying to rescue her sons from the school shooting has claimed that authorities warned her not to speak to the media about her experience.
Angeli Gómez, a farmworker in Uvalde, spoke to CBS News on Thursday, describing how she was able to rush into Robb Elementary School and save her kids during the shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers, despite law enforcement’s attempts to stop her.
Gómez, who previously spoke to the Wall Street Journal about her experience, said she had just gone back to work after her children's graduation ceremony when she first received news about the shooting. She quickly drove 40 miles back to the school but said she was prevented from going inside.
“Right away, as soon as I parked my car, US marshals started coming towards my car saying I wasn’t allowed to be parked there,” Gómez told CBS News. “He said, ‘We’re going to have to arrest you because you’re being very uncooperative,’ and I said, ‘Well, you’re going to have to arrest me because I’m going in there, and I’m telling you right now — I don’t see none of y’all in there.’”
Gómez alleged that the US marshals handcuffed her to stop her from rushing toward the school.
"I told one of the officers, 'I don't need you to protect me. Get away from me. I don't need your protection. If anything, I need you to go in with me to go protect my kids,'" she told CBS News.
The US Marshals agency has previously denied handcuffing parents, telling WSJ that its deputy marshals “maintained order and peace in the midst of the grief-stricken community that was gathering around the school.”
CBS News also reported that Gómez, who is reportedly on probation for previous charges against her, claimed that she had received a call from “someone in law enforcement” telling her that if she kept talking to the media and sharing her story, she might face some kind of violation for obstruction of justice.
According to CBS News, Gómez said she was able to speak out after a judge called her “brave” and told her that her probation would be shortened.
Uvalde police did not respond to requests for comment, and BuzzFeed News could not independently verify Gómez's account about the call and her probation.
Gómez said that she was able to convince local police to uncuff her, and as soon as she was free, she jumped over a fence and rushed into the building to grab her two sons, who are in the second and third grade, from inside. According to her account, police chased her while she ran toward the building.
Gómez claimed that she did not see officers inside the building while she was in there, but she could hear gunshots coming from somewhere in the school. When she knocked on the door of her first son’s classroom, she recalled finding teachers and students hiding inside.
Gómez said the teacher asked her if they had time to get out and she replied, “Yeah, you have time; I’m going to run and get my other son.’”
She said that authorities tried to escort her out of the building when she approached her other son’s classroom door, but that when she saw them opening the door, she ran back to get her child.
Gómez was captured on camera holding her sons’ hands while running out of the school.
“Nothing was being done,” she told CBS News. “If anything, [law enforcement] were being more aggressive on us parents that were willing to go in there.”
Several videos widely shared on social media showed authorities confronting desperate parents who were angrily asking why armed police officers were not rushing in to save their children during the shooting.
In one video, an officer who was seen pushing parents back was asked by a parent why police weren’t trying to save their kids.
“Because I'm having to deal with you!" the officer replied.
The mishandling of the shooting by law enforcement sparked a national outcry after it was revealed that police did not enter the classroom to confront the shooter for more than an hour after the shooting began, and that they have reportedly ignored requests for follow-up interviews by Texas state investigators. The Justice Department has opened an investigation to review the police response to the attack after authorities admitted that mistakes were made.
Even as Gómez recounted being able to rescue her own children, she broke down in tears, thinking about how many other kids’ lives might have been saved if not for police inaction.
"They could have saved many more lives," Gómez said. "They could have gone into the classroom, and maybe two or three would have been gone, but they could have saved the whole, more, the whole class. They could have done something — gone through the window, sniped him through the window. Something, but nothing was being done."