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New detail raises more questions about the botched response to the shooting in Uvalde

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

In Uvalde, Texas, we continue to learn new details about what happened inside Robb Elementary School after a gunman entered a fourth-grade classroom and killed 19 students and two teachers last week. We are learning today that one of those teachers called her husband from inside the classroom after she had been shot. Her husband is an officer with the school district's police force. It's a detail raising yet more questions about the botched law enforcement response to this shooting. And for more, we're joined from Uvalde by NPR's Adrian Florido. Hey, Adrian.

ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: Hi, Mary Louise.

KELLY: Hey. OK. Tell me more about this phone call. This is from a teacher inside the classroom after she had been shot.

FLORIDO: Right, from Eva Mireles. She was one of the two co-teachers in this classroom. And after she was shot, she called her husband, Ruben Ruiz, who is an officer for the Uvalde schools police department. At some point, he was outside the school, but he couldn't get in. And we now know, of course, that neither his wife, Ms. Mireles, nor her co-teacher inside that classroom, Irma Garcia, survived the shooting.

KELLY: Yeah. Do we know what she said in this call?

FLORIDO: Well, I've been speaking with people close to these families, and they tell me that Eva Mireles called her husband and told him that her co-teacher, Irma Garcia, was dead and that she had been shot and badly injured and that she needed help immediately.

KELLY: I mean, it's such a sad detail. Explain why this is such an important detail, though, for the investigation.

FLORIDO: Well, it's yet another example, Mary Louise, in this string of them that we have now of these pleas for help that were coming from inside these classrooms. Because aside from this call from Eva Mireles, there were 911 calls from children inside that were coming in to 911 for about an hour. And what police have said about the response to this shooting is that the officers outside the classroom waited about an hour before moving in and killing the gunman because they didn't realize children and teachers were at risk inside.

The incident commander who held officers back was Pete Arredondo. He's the chief of the school district police force. So now there's this question - how did he not know that one of his officers had gotten a call from his wife inside? And how was he not learning about these 911 calls that were coming from inside the classroom?

KELLY: How was he not learning about these 911 calls? I mean, what are officials now saying about that?

FLORIDO: Well, the various police agencies that responded to this shooting are basically saying nothing now. They've sort of shut down. But today we heard from a state senator, Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat, that the information that was coming in from these 911 calls was being communicated not to the school's police chief who took command of this incident but instead to the Uvalde City Police Department.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ROLAND GUTIERREZ: 911 calls were being received by a different entity. I felt that that was important enough to know here, not because I want to blame that entity. There was error at every level.

FLORIDO: There's still a lot we're trying to find out, Mary Louise, about why this communication broke down.

KELLY: Yeah. The official story just keeps shifting and shifting. What are you hearing from families of the victims?

FLORIDO: Well, these shifting stories are infuriating families. I spoke with Angela Corodova. Her son was in the school and made it out alive, thankfully, but her nephew was killed. And she said that these shifting narratives are making it hard to grieve.

ANGELA CORODOVA: I'm, like, lost at words that I don't even know where to start because I don't know if to blame the UPD. I don't know if to blame the first responders. I don't know. I don't know. I'm just, like, lost. I have a lot of hate, and I have a lot of anger because these kids should be living their life.

FLORIDO: This is a small town, Mary Louise.

KELLY: Yeah.

FLORIDO: So many of these families are related by blood and marriage. And a lot of what they're learning about what happened inside is coming from the children who survived.

KELLY: NPR's Adrian Florido in Uvalde, Texas. Thank you.

FLORIDO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.