We’re still learning exactly what happened during the school shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday.
No matter the details, the end result doesn’t change: 19 young children killed along with two teachers. It’s heart wrenching and angering.
But along with other facts, several stories of immense courage and heroism have now emerged.
According to several sources, a few Border Patrol agents are being called “heroes” after rapidly responding to the school. Apparently, they were tasked with creating a plan to breach the classroom where the 18-year-old gunman had barricaded himself in.
The agents belonged to a special Border Patrol Tactical Unit (Bortac) which are “among the most highly trained in federal law enforcement.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Bortac agents weren’t able to get into the barricaded classroom “because of a steel door and cinder block construction … Meanwhile, the 18-year-old gunman shot at them and other officers through the door and walls.”
“The Bortac agents got a master key from the school principal that allowed them to enter the room, according to the officials. One Bortac agent took rounds to their shield upon entering and a second was wounded by shrapnel. A third killed the suspect.”
Now, one Homeland Security official has said that the Bortac agents believed they were on a “suicide” mission in breaching the classroom.
“If you have a barricaded subject and he has the advantage because he’s barricaded — if you rush through the door, not only do you have dead kids but dead cops. It’s suicide to try to rush a barricaded subject,” the official said. “I don’t think a lot of people would make that decision. To me, it just speaks to those individuals who decided to make entry.”
Upon breaching the classroom, one of the agents came within inches of being killed. A bullet grazed the black-and-white cap that he was wearing.
But the Bortac agents weren’t the only heroes who responded to the school.
While the agents attempted to neutralize the shooter, “there were a lot of other folks who were pulling children to safety,” said Jason Owens, the top Border Patrol agent in the agency’s Del Rio Sector.
In another story that is equal parts heroic and tragic, one fourth grade girl, who was 10 years old, was shot as she tried to dial 911 from inside the classroom where the shooter had barricaded himself in.
Her grandmother said, “She died a hero trying to get help for her and her fellow classmates.”
Additionally, we’ve seen an outpouring of goodness and support for the small Texas town of Uvalde.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised for the families of the victims of the shooting, and several groups have sent comfort dogs to provide support for those impacted by the tragedy.
One of the groups is the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Ministry, whose president, Tim Hetzner, told Good Morning America about the impact the dogs can have.
“I remember one situation in Sandy Hook, four days after the shooting. We were at a community center and this couple was there with their young boy. … I had a dog named Howe at that time,” he said.
“Howe looked up at the boy, got up, walked over to the boy, rolled into his legs and the boy came down on top of him. They just laid there. After about 10 minutes, the boy lifted up Howe’s ear and told him everything that happened in that classroom. Parents started crying because it was the first time the boy had talked in four days. First time and it was a dog.”
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Related articles and resources:
Only the Cross of Christ Makes the Horrific Texas School Shooting Bearable
Talking to Kids about Mass School Shootings
Parenting a Child Affected by a Traumatic Event
Photo from Reuters.