The teenage sister of a nine-year-old girl who died in the Uvalde mass shooting begged Texas lawmakers to pass gun control laws as she broke down in tears, revealing she is now “terrified” to go back to school for her last year.
Jazmin Cazares gave harrowing testimony before the Texas House Committee on Mass Violence and Public Safety Thursday morning, where she described the loss of her younger sister Jacklyn and her cousin Annabell Rodriguez in the May 24 massacre in Robb Elementary School.
Wearing a T-shirt with her little sister’s picture on it, she said she was there to honor those killed in the attack and challenged lawmakers, saying “you too can honor them by passing gun safety laws.”
“I’m here begging you to do something and to change something because the people who were supposed to keep her safe at school didn’t,” she said.
He called on Texas lawmakers to pass legislation on background checks and red flag laws to “protect innocent communities like mine from being endangered by people who are unstable and flagged as threats.”
“There should be absolutely no reason why this killer should have had access to a firearm,” he said.
“Days after his 18th birthday, he bought an AR-15, hundreds of rounds of ammunition.”
Through her grief, the teenager spoke of being “terrified for her life” as she decides whether to return to school to complete her studies in the next academic year.
“I am going to survive?” she asked.
When asked about active shooter drills, Ms. Cazares said her school often went on lockdown, so “nobody usually took it seriously, until that day.”
“We were on lockdown, so the only information we were getting was from the media,” he said.
“It was scary… and having to go back to school next year… I don’t know.
“It’s a big decision and going to school shouldn’t be a big decision, but it is. I am afraid that my life will return.
“I have the last year and that’s it. I will Survive?” she asked.
The Texas Legislature’s joint committee meeting was called to discuss legislative solutions following last month’s mass shooting in which 21 victims were shot to death.
Jacklyn, nicknamed “Jackie,” was one of 19 young students between the ages of nine and 11 who were killed along with two teachers in America’s worst school shooting since Sandy Hook in 2012.
Ms. Cazares choked with emotion as she paid tribute to her little sister as “an exact copy of me” who “loved to sing, dance and act.”
Instead of being home together enjoying summer vacation like they should, I had to be there today to ask lawmakers to stop gun violence from tearing other families apart.
“This morning around 5:30 am I sat on my sister’s bed and cried. I cried and cried,” she said.
“Maybe a minute later I wiped my tears and got in the car and drove 4 hours to get here.
“I shouldn’t have to be here… I’m not supposed to be here right now. I’m supposed to be at home watching a movie with my sister. It’s summer,” she said.
Jackie had wanted to go to Paris for her graduation, Cazares told lawmakers. She now plans to go in honor of her sister when she graduates from school next year.
After the massacre, her father, Javier Cazares, spoke about how he ran to school when he heard reports of a shooting.
Mr. Cazares begged the police officers to raid the school, and as he grew frustrated with the agonizing wait, he was prevented from taking matters into his own hands and saving his daughter.
“A lot of us were arguing with the police, ‘Everyone should go in there. You all need to do your job,’” he said. washington post at the time.
“We were ready to go to work and hurry up.”
The law enforcement response to the massacre is now at the center of multiple local, state, and federal investigations, as it is learned that officers waited a staggering 77 minutes from the time the shooting began to the time the shooting began. who entered the classroom and shot dead the gunman Salvador Ramos. .
This late response is believed to have cost lives: a teacher died in an ambulance on the way to hospital and three children succumbed to their injuries after reaching hospital.
On Tuesday, Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) Director Steve McCraw testified at a Texas Senate hearing that there were enough armed officers on the scene to apprehend the shooter just three minutes after the shooting began.
But instead, police waited another hour, 14 minutes, and eight seconds while the commander on the scene, Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo, did not send officers to the classroom.
“Three minutes after the subject entered the west hallway, there were a sufficient number of armed officers in bulletproof vests to isolate, distract and neutralize the subject,” he said.
“The only thing that stopped a hallway of dedicated officers from entering rooms 111 and 112 was the commander on scene, who decided to put the lives of the officers before the lives of the children.
“The officers had weapons. The children had none. The officers had bulletproof vests. The children had none.
“The officers had training. Subject had none.
McCraw, who is leading a state investigation into the law enforcement response, called the response an “abject failure” and said Chief Arredondo waited for radios, firearms and keys instead of sending officers to the two classrooms. contiguous.
Chief Arredondo previously said much of the delay was due to waiting for the keys to the classroom door.
McCraw disputed this, saying the investigation so far indicates the door was open, but surveillance footage reveals not a single officer tried the door handle to see if it was open.
Even if the door was locked, police had access to a prying tool within minutes that could have been used to force the door open, he testified.
On Wednesday night, Chief Arredondo was placed on administrative leave while investigations continue.