We’ve known about this call for a while, but it’s different when you hear it. At 12:10 pm on May 24, a 10-year-old girl named Khloie Torres called 911 from inside her classroom to beg the dispatcher to send help. Torres was in room 112, one of the two classrooms where the shooter had shot a bunch of people and barricaded himself. She describes the room as filled with bodies but makes clear there are also people still alive who need help.
“Please get help. I don’t wanna die. My teacher is dead. Oh, my God.”…
CNN has heard this 911 call, and others made by the same girl and classmates, whispering information and pleading for help. It’s the call that should have ended any doubt or hesitation that the teenage gunman was active, roaming between the two connected classrooms, that children were trapped, injured and needed to be saved…
“I need help … please. Have y’all captured the person?” the fourth grader asks at 12:12 p.m. And a few minutes later, “You want me to open the door now?”
Time and again Khloie is told by the dispatcher to stay quiet, to keep her terrified and injured friends quiet, and to wait.
“I’m telling everyone to be quiet but nobody is listening to me,” she tells the operator. “I understand what to do in these situations. My dad taught me when I was a little girl. Send help.”…
“Can you tell the police to come to my room?” she asks. And again, minutes later, “Can you send a policeman in now, please?”
This 10-year-old is braver than the entire army of police outside. She’s getting up to look for Band-Aids for her injured friends. She’s offering to open the door from the inside, exposing herself for a chance to bring help. Meanwhile, the highly trained and highly armed police are cowering in the hallway, waiting for ballistic shields, waiting for a master key, just waiting.
Thirty minutes of waiting had gone by before Khloie’s call. The theory at the time was that the situation was no longer an active shooter but had become a barricaded suspect where the strategy was to wait him out. But Khloie’s call, which was related to police over their radios within minutes, should have changed that thinking.
At 12:12 p.m. the radio call goes out: “Uvalde to any units: Be advised we do have a child on the line … room 12 [sic]. Is anybody inside of the building at this time?”
“Go ahead with that child’s information,” an answer comes back.
“The child is advising he [sic] is in in the room full of victims, full of victims at this moment.”…
The news spreads beyond those who heard the initial transmission.
“Supposedly one kid called as it was underway. He’s been in that room for an hour now,” an officer tells a newly arrived responder, apparently referring to the shooter.
“We don’t know if he has anybody in the room with him, do we?” asks an officer in the hallway outside the classrooms. “He does,” comes the reply. “Eight or nine children.”
They knew there were living children inside the room and it still took another 40 minutes before someone found the stones to breach the door and kill the shooter. There’s no way to prove that going in earlier would have saved any additional lives but CNN points out “at least one adult and one child did not die immediately.” There were lives that might have been saved and, just as important, there were living children who might also have been killed during the 75 minute wait.
Fortunately, Khloie Torres survived. She was still on the phone when the police finally breached the door. She’s now 11 years old. As Karen wrote last week, some Uvalde families are demanding that the head of the Texas DPS resign.
Here’s the CNN report including the audio of the call. It really is different when you hear it.