An 11-year-old girl has told the US Congress how she pretended to be dead when her school in Uvalde, Texas, was attacked by a gunman last month.
Miah Cerrillo, a student at the Robb Elementary school, described in a pre-recorded video to a committee of the House of Representatives on Wednesday the events that took place after a gunman with an assault rifle burst into her classroom and killed 21 people.
“He told my teacher goodnight and shot her in the head. He shot some of my classmates,” she said.
She said she had been watching a movie with her fellow students when one of her teachers got an email and then moved to lock the door. The teacher had told students: “Go hide”.
She said the students hid behind backpacks and their teacher’s desk.
“He shot my friend that was next to me,” she said. “And I thought he would come back to the room.”
She took blood from her friend and rubbed it over herself so that she would appear dead, and she then called emergency services from her teacher’s phone, asking for the police.
“I said we needed help,” she said.
In the video, Miah was asked what she wanted to come in the wake of the mass shooting.
“To have security,” she told members of Congress. She shook her head when she was asked if she felt safe at school. “I don’t want it to happen again.”
Miah’s father Miguel told the committee that Miah had changed since the shooting.
“I came because I could’ve lost my baby girl. And she’s not the same little girl that I used to play with and run with and do everything, because she was Daddy’s little girl.”
“I wish something would change,” he said. “Not only for our kids, but every single kid in the world, because schools are not safe any more.”
Kimberly Rubio, whose 10-year-old daughter Lexi was murdered in the attack on the school, said parents wanted to see action from politicians in Washington on gun control reforms.
“We seek a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines. We understand for some reason, to some people... that guns are more important than children,” she said.
She described the harrowing events in the town of Uvalde after news broke of the shooting. She said she had run a mile barefoot to the school.
Ms Rubio said shortly before the gun attack, Lexi had received an award at a ceremony in the school. She said she and her husband had taken photographs and said they would take her for ice-cream later in the day.
“That photo – her last photo ever – was taken at approximately 10:54am,” she told the House Oversight Committee. “I left my children at school and that decision will haunt me for the rest of my life.”
The gun attack on the school took place around 11.30am. Two teachers and 19 students were killed. The gunman was shot dead by police but the speed of their response has drawn criticism.
On Wednesday, the US justice department announced details of its planned review of police operations on the day of the shooting in Uvalde.
It said it would offer “an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses, identify lessons learned and best practices“.
US attorney general Merrick Garland said: “Nothing can undo the pain that has been inflicted on the loved ones of the victims, the survivors and the entire community of Uvalde.”
“But the justice department can and will use its expertise and independence to assess what happened and provide guidance moving forward.”