As state authorities investigate the police response to the Uvalde school shooting, a mother of two Robb Elementary School students described her experience in the chaos, from being handcuffed to saving her kids.
Angeli Gomez told CBS News that she rushed to the school at 100 miles per hour when she heard the news about an active shooter.
Gomez, who had just been at the campus for her kids’ ceremonies, parked her car outside the school and sprung into action, but she was immediately approached by U.S. Marshals, she said.
They said she was being “very uncooperative” when she tried to go after her kids and Marshals threatened to arrest her, she told the TV network.
“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. Y’all are standing with snipers and y’all are far away. If y’all don’t go in there then I’m going in there,’” she said.
“He immediately put me in cuffs.”
Uvalde police told US Marshals to release her and she immediately ran toward the school.
She jumped the fence, went inside the building and went to her son’s class. The teacher asked her if they had enough time to leave, and Gomez said yes.
Once she knew the class was safe, she ran to get her other son in another classroom.
She encountered officers, who told her she was being uncooperative. She told them “y’all aren’t doing s*** ... somebody give me a vest, something,” she recalled.
When she got to her other son’s class, she said the teacher did not want to open the door for her.
Officers then started to escort her out, but when officers opened the teacher’s door, Gomez saw her son, grabbed him and took him outside, she said.
During the time she was inside the school, she could hear the gunshots, she said.
The police response to the shooting has come under criticism as authorities have released conflicting details in the timeline.
According to Steven McCraw, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, the 18-year-old shooter was in the school for about 80 minutes before law enforcement officers killed him.
During that time, he barricaded himself in a fourth-grade classroom and fatally shot 19 students and two of their teachers with an AR-15-style rifle.
McCraw said that the incident commander at the scene, Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo, believed it was a hostage situation and not an active shooter situation.
Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez said that Arredondo did not know that children inside the classrooms were calling 911 and pleading for help.
Gutierrez said Friday that Arredondo was not carrying a radio as the massacre unfolded.
Witnesses and parents have since told media outlets that they urged police officers to charge into the school.
Javier Cazares, whose fourth-grade daughter, Jacklyn Cazares, was killed in the attack, told the Associated Press that he raised the idea of charging into the school with several other bystanders.
“Let’s just rush in because the cops aren’t doing anything like they are supposed to,” he said. “More could have been done.”
“They were unprepared,” he added.
Gomez told CBS News that authorities were more worried about keeping parents back than going into the school.
“If anything they were being more aggressive on us parents that were willing to go in there. And like 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 there with me to go protect my kids,” she said.
“They could have saved many more lives... they could have done something.”
Gomez added that authorities threatened her for speaking out because she was on probation and could be charged with obstruction of justice. That probation was recently shortened by a judge, she said.