Uvalde County Sheriff’s deputy Felix Rubio and his wife, Kimberly, had just been at Robb Elementary School where their daughter, 10-year-old Alexandria “Lexi,” had received a certificate for A honor roll and good citizenship.
An hour later, Kimberly Rubio was back at work at the Uvalde Leader-News and heard scanner chatter about commotion near the school. She didn’t know that moment was going to change their lives forever.
Lexi’s parents sat down with ABC News and explained their anguish and guilt since an 18-year-old man stormed the school on Tuesday and opened fire in a fourth-grade classroom. He barricaded himself in the room for more than an hour before he was shot and killed by a Border Patrol tactical team.
Since then, the school district police chief and other law enforcement officials have received scrutiny for their response time.
Felix Rubio, who was off-duty at the time, said he went to the school after his wife texted him.
“I go, and I get there. I’m outside for a bit and start to inch my way (inside) a little bit,” he said. “I get to the building where... I see where everybody’s posted: In front of my baby girl’s two doors.”
“It’s a 50/50, which door it is? I see them open the doors, open fire... My heart drops,” he said.
He was allowed inside the building but not the classroom, Kimberly Rubio said.
Felix Rubio said he knew he couldn’t interfere because, although he is a deputy, “someone else is on scene, it’s their scene.”
It wasn’t an assignment, he said, “this is just me going to check on my babies at Robb.”
Kimberly Rubio said they went to the civic center, where students were arriving in buses. Another child of theirs who attended the school, a son, was safe.
“Bus after bus comes, we’re looking for her and she never comes off the bus,” she said.
They went to Uvalde Memorial Hospital, where they didn’t find Lexi and then went to the school and waited. Kimberly Rubio’s father drove to University Hospital in San Antonio to see if one of the three children transported there was Lexi.
Lexi’s parents returned to the civic center, where they eventually found out that their daughter was among the 19 children killed in the classroom. The gunman also killed two of their teachers.
Kimberly Rubio told ABC News that she’s struggling with guilt since they left Lexi in school following the awards ceremony. Parents typically take their kids out of class but this time there was no sign-out sheet.
So they told her they would see her after school, then get ice cream. “We had no idea this was goodbye,” she said in a Facebook post.
She doesn’t want to hear about the inconsistencies in the police response time — at least not yet.
“I have enough what-ifs on my end, so I’m not interested in reading about somebody else’s mistakes because I have to live with my own,” she told ABC News. “Otherwise, she’d be home with me. I left my baby at that school.”
Felix Rubio said he believes authorities did what they could at that moment.
The couple said they did not want to meet with Gov. Greg Abbott, but said they will advocate for stricter gun laws.
Felix Rubio said regular people “don’t need” high-capacity weapons like the AR-15-style rifle that the gunman used on Tuesday.
“And this is not because of what happened with our child. We have always, always had this opinion. It’s really not very fair,” Kimberly Rubio said. “No one should go what we’re going through.”
As far as next school year, the couple said they are “terrified” of taking their kids back to school.
“Yes we’re terrified because you didn’t think it would happen here,” Kimberly Rubio said.
“And here we go, we’re here,” her husband said.