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In an emotional interview with ABC News, Reyes detailed the events on the day of the shooting, saying he cannot forgive law enforcement officers for taking more than an hour to stop the gunman who killed 19 students and two teachers.
Reyes said the day was like any other, adding that several of his students were excited to have received awards during an end-of-the-year assembly. He planned to show his students the animated movie The Addams Family in the afternoon.
“It was going to be a good day,” Reyes told ABC from his hospital room, where he has been recovering.
However, around 11:30 a.m., Reyes said his students began asking about loud noises — gunshots, it would turn out to be — outside the classroom.
Following the school’s protocol, Reyes told his students to pretend they were asleep under their desks.
“I turned around and saw him standing there,” Reyes said in the interview, referring to the 18-year-old gunman.
The gunman made his way into Reyes’s classroom through a connecting door from the neighbouring room and opened fire.
Reyes was shot twice in his lung and back before hitting the ground. He became emotional, telling ABC he thought at the time that he was going to die.
Every one of Reyes’s students in the room, 11 in total, was fatally shot.
From the time the gunman entered Reyes’s classroom, it took 77 minutes for police to reach and stop the attacker.
The teacher, fighting tears, told ABC he heard students in adjoining classrooms call out to police for help, but said police had “already left,” stationed instead in the hallway to call for reinforcements and equipment such as body armour.
Though officers had responded to reports of the shooting within minutes, Texas Department of Public Safety director Col. Steven McCraw said three days after the shooting that the school district police chief made the “wrong decision” in not engaging the gunman sooner.
“A decision was made that this was a barricaded subject situation,” McCraw said.
Reyes said he felt abandoned by police.
“After everything, I get more angry because you have a bulletproof vest. I had nothing,” he said, fighting back tears.
“You’re supposed to protect and serve,” Reyes said. “There is no excuse for their actions. And I will never forgive them.”
“I’m sorry,” Reyes said in the interview, speaking to the parents of his deceased students. “I tried my best. I did what I was told to do. Please don’t be angry with me.”
Reyes called for legislative action and for “laws to change” to prevent school shootings in the future.
“I will not let these children and my co-workers die in vain,” he said. “I will go anywhere, to the end of the world, to not let my students die in vain.”
“They didn’t deserve this,” he continued. “Nobody in this world deserves this kind of pain.
“I will go to the end of the world to make sure things get changed.”
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