Uvalde’s only pediatrician describes horrors of school shooting to Congress, says he’ll ‘never forget’ what he saw

‘We are bleeding out and you are not there,’ he said

Uvalde’s only pediatrician spoke before Congress on Wednesday, describing in stark terms the horrors of the Robb Elementary School shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers two weeks ago.

Appearing in person before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Dr. Roy Guerrero said he raced to Uvalde Memorial Hospital on May 24 after hearing reports of the shooting.

What he saw when he arrived, he said, was chaos.

Injured students were in the hallways, and parents were sobbing and screaming in desperation, wondering if their child made it out of the school alive.

He noticed the parents of Miah Cerrillo, who survived the shooting by covering herself in a classmate’s blood and playing dead, and told them Miah was alive. Her parents then asked Guerrero about their other daughter who attended the school.

He then went to an area of the hospital where two dead children had been taken.

The girl wasn’t there, but “what I did find was something no prayer will ever relieve,” he said.

“Two children whose bodies have been pulverized by bullets fired at them. Decapitated. Whose flesh have been ripped apart, that the only clue at their identities was a blood-splattered cartoon clothes still clinging to them, clinging for life and finding none,” he said. “I could only hope these two bodies were a tragic exception to the list of survivors, but as I waited there with my fellow Uvalde doctors, nurses, first responders and hospital staff for other casualties we hoped to save, they never arrived.”

Guerrero spoke in front of lawmakers to bring home the devastation of America’s gun violence epidemic.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., the panel’s chairwoman, called the hearing to not only focus on the human impact of gun violence but also show the urgency for gun control legislation.

Miah Cerrillo, and Kimberly and Felix Rubio, the parents of slain student Alexandria “Lexi,” also testified on Wednesday.

Guerrero said he showed up as not only a witness but as a doctor, whose job it is to protect children.

“To stay silent would have betrayed that oath. Inaction is harm. Passivity is harm. Delay is harm,” he said.

The doctor, who grew up in the close-knit town of Uvalde, treated eight children that day.

Four of them, including Miah, were his regular patients. Five other patients of his were among the students killed.

He also attended Robb Elementary School as a child, but he knows the campus will never be the same.

“I doubt they’ll remember the smell of the cafeteria or the laughter ringing in the hallways. Instead, they’ll be haunted by the memory of screams and bloodshed, panic and chaos. Police shouting, parents wailing,” he said. “I know I’ll never forget what I saw that day.”

May 24 started off as a normal day, he said, with parents asking about their children’s coughs, “boogers” or sports physicals.

With summer sports coming up, he said the office would likely see sprained ankles or minor injuries.

Those sprains, scrapes and bruises, he can fix. What he can’t do is keep kids safe from guns, he said.

“... that’s the job of our politicians and leaders. In this case, you are the doctors and our country is the patient. We are lying on the operating table, riddled with bullets like the children of Robb Elementary and so many other schools. We are bleeding out and you are not there,” he said.

Guerrero added that he became a pediatrician because “children are the best patients.”

Adults have the ability to dictate their own health, whereas children don’t have to be coaxed, he said.

Adults can also be resistant to change, even if it’s for the better. He likened the situation to the state of gun violence in America.

Despite the U.S.’s rash of mass shootings, Guerrero said he doesn’t understand the contentious debate over gun control.

“The thing I can’t figure out is whether our politicians are failing us out of stubbornness, passivity, or both. I said before, that as grownups, we have a convenient habit of remembering the good and forgetting the bad, never more so than when it comes to our guns,” he said.

“Once the blood is rinsed away from the bodies of our loved ones and scrubbed off the floors of the schools and supermarkets and churches, the carnage from each scene is a race on our collective conscience, and we return again to nostalgia. To the rose-tinted view of our Second Amendment as a perfect instrument of American life, no matter how many lives are lost.”

WATCH: Congress hears from victims, parents of Robb Elementary and Uvalde’s only pediatrician

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Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.