UVALDE, Texas — A mom who pulled her fourth grade daughter out of class minutes before Tuesday’s Texas shooting massacre that killed 19 of her classmates, including four relatives, and two teachers was grappling with “overwhelming guilt” about her life-saving decision.
Mia and her daughter Evalynn spoke to The Post from Uvalde on Thursday on what was supposed to be the day Evalynn held an annual sleepover to celebrate the last day of school with her best best friend Layla Salazar, who was slain in the attack.
“I can’t eat, couldn’t think because of the overwhelming amount of guilt,” said Mia, who did not want her family’s last name published.
“I was able to take my daughter out, but what could’ve happened if we were there just five minutes later?
“There is so much guilt right now. My heart goes out to all of the families who are suffering. … And now we have 11 funerals to attend.”
Mia said they are related to four of the young school children gunned down by 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos, who stormed Evalynn’s classroom just minutes after she pulled her daughter out of Robb Elementary School to go out to lunch.
The exact relationship between the family and the young victims was unclear.
Teacher Alfonso Reyes’s fourth grade class had just finished handing out awards before the terror unfolded. Several parents who attended the ceremony opted to take their kids home for the day, including Mia.
Mia and Evalynn left the school to eat at the nearby Sunrise Restaurant following the awards ceremony, where Layla was highly decorated.
“When I was at the awards I was so happy for her because she got five awards,” Evalynn recalled.
Before going out to lunch, Evalynn stopped in her classroom to get her school supplies around 11:05, Mia said.
“We ended up talking to the teacher, Mr. Reyes and he let us know that the door would be unlocked for her to get her backpack. He said we were more than welcome to walk back there to grab Evalynn’s belongings, sign her out and leave,” said.
About 25 minutes later, Ramos arrived at the school and began opening fire, police said. Reyes was injured in the attack but was recovering at the hospital.
Mia and Evalynn were sitting down to eat around 11:30 a.m. when they heard a lot of noise from the radio owned by a Border Patrol agent, who was eating at a table near them.
“All of a sudden we kept hearing sirens. It’s pretty common in our town but these sirens seemed different,” Mia said.
“We kind of brushed it off at first but a Border Patrol agent was sitting next to us and his radio kept going off. He was listening at first but he rushed out of there quickly. They told him he could pay later.”
Mia said she became alarmed at that point. A few minutes later, she received a robocall from the school that the school was on lockdown.
“We started shaking because we were so worried about Layla, and of course the other children,” Mia said. “But Evalynn, of course, was saying, ‘Please! I hope my friend Layla is safe!’”
Mia said Evalynn started sobbing so loudly for her best friend Layla that they left the restaurant.
Hours later, they would find out that Layla was one of the students who was shot to death in the same classroom they were in earlier in the day.
“When I heard about the active shooting, I was devastated. I couldn’t take it. She was my only best friend that I had,” Evalynn said.
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Mia choked back tears because Layla had asked to go home with them, but Mia said she couldn’t just leave the school without her parents knowing.
Evalynn said she had planned a sleepover with Layla on Thursday to celebrate the last day of school.
“The thing I loved about Layla was that she was always there for me,” Evalynn said.
She would call me everyday after school and we would play a game called Roblox … we would stay up all night on the weekends calling and calling [each other].”
“She would never replace me with anyone else [inaudible] and she would never talk trash about me,” the grief-stricken girl said.