Uvalde teacher had made peace with idea she was going to die, attorney says

Originally Published: 03 JUN 22 02:13 ET
Updated: 03 JUN 22 15:44 ET

(CNN) — Emilia Marin, an educator at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, was walking outside the school on May 24 to help a coworker bring in food for an end-of-the-year party when she saw a vehicle crash, according to her attorney.

What followed next would be “the most horrific thing anyone could have endured,” her attorney Don Flanary told CNN, as a gunman would kill 19 students and two teachers in the deadliest school mass shooting in nearly a decade.

Marin went inside the school to report the crash and had left the door propped open with a rock, according to Flanary, who is assisting Marin with a possible civil claim against the makers of the weapon used in the slaughter.

When Marin returned to the door — still on the line with 911 operators — she saw her coworker fleeing and heard people across the street at a funeral home yelling, “He’s got a gun!”

Marin saw the 18-year-old gunman approach, Flanary said, so she kicked the door shut and ran to a nearby adjoining classroom, huddling underneath a counter.

It was there that Marin heard gunshots, Flanary said — first outdoors, then inside the school.

“Frozen” in fear, Marin received a text from her daughter asking if she were safe, and had to eventually silence her phone, convinced the gunman would hear her, her attorney said.

“She thought he was going to come in and kill her and she made peace with that,” said Flanary.

The gunman targeted another classroom and never encountered Marin, her attorney said. Her grandson, who is a student at Robb Elementary, also was elsewhere and survived. Yet Marin’s ordeal soon was exacerbated in the days following the shooting after authorities said the gunman gained entry into the school through a door left propped open.

“She felt alone, like she couldn’t even grieve,” Flanary said. “She second-guessed herself, like ‘did I not do that?'” he added.

The Texas Department of Public Safety later clarified that the shooter had entered instead through a door that was unlocked. The entire experience, however, has taken a toll on her mental health, Flanary said. She’s had to see a neurologist because “she can’t stop shaking,” he said.

While Marin has no plans to sue the school, police or school district, Flanary said, a petition was filed Thursday to depose Daniel Defense, the manufacturer of the firearm used in the attack, according to a court filing obtained by CNN.

The pre-suit petition does not accuse the gun manufacturer of any wrongdoing but seeks to investigate whether the Petitioner has any basis to file a claim against Daniel Defense. CNN has reached out to Daniel Defense for its response to the filing.

Victim’s father also demands answers from gun manufacturer

On Friday, lawyers for the father of shooting victim Amerie Jo Garza, 10, also demanded answers from the gun manufacturer.

A letter issued on behalf of Alfred Garza III asked the maker of the AR-15 style rifle used in the massacre to provide all marketing information, particularly strategy aimed at teens and children, according to statement from the attorneys.

The statement said Garza’s Texas lawyers, Mikal Watts and Charla Aldous, have teamed up with Josh Koskoff, who represented nine Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting families in a $73 million settlement against Remington, the maker of the AR-15 used in the 2012 school shooting.

“She would want to me to do everything I can so this will never happen again to any other child,” Alfred Garza III said in the statement. “I have to fight her fight.”

In addition to marketing and advertising strategies, the attorneys are asking Georgia-based Daniel Defense for information relevant “to your incitement and encouragement of the assaultive use of these weapons; to your on-line purchase system; and to your communications, on any platform, with the Uvalde shooter; and to your awareness of the prior use of AR-15 style rifles in mass shootings.”

“Daniel Defense has said that they are praying for the Uvalde families. They should back up those prayers with meaningful action,” Koskoff said.

CNN has reached out to Daniel Defense for comment on the letter.

On its website Daniel Defense said it will “cooperate with all federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities in their investigations” and referred to the Uvalde shooting as an “act of evil.”

Preliminary death certificates for 20 victims show they died of gunshot wounds, according to the Uvalde County Justice of the Peace. CNN is awaiting on a report on the additional victim. The shooter also died of gunshot wounds.

Survivors of Uvalde and Buffalo shootings to testify

Next week, survivors and others affected by the recent shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde will testify before the House Oversight Committee, according to the committee’s website. An 18-year-old gunman opened fire in a Buffalo, New York, supermarket on May 14, killing 10 people in a racist attack.

Witnesses at next Wednesday’s committee hearing will include Miah Cerrillo, a fourth grade student at Robb Elementary; Felix Rubio and Kimberly Rubio, whose 10-year-old daughter Alexandria “Lexi” Rubio was killed at Robb Elementary; Zeneta Everhart, whose son Zaire Goodman was injured in Buffalo; and Dr. Roy Guerrero, a pediatrician in Uvalde. Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia also will testify.

The announcement of the Washington hearing came on the same day that a Texas state legislator established a committee to “conduct an examination into the circumstances” surrounding the Uvalde shooting.

“The fact we still do not have an accurate picture of what exactly happened in Uvalde is an outrage,” Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, a Republican, said in a statement Friday.

Texas state Reps. Dustin Burrows, a Republican, Joe Moody, a Democrat, and retired Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, a Republican, have been appointed to the committee.

State senator calls for more answers

Investigators from local, state and federal agencies say they are working to determine more about the circumstances behind the Uvalde shooting.

Search warrants have been issued for the shooter’s cell phone, vehicle and his grandparents’ home, court records obtained by CNN show. The warrant gives investigators the authority to perform a forensic download of the cell phone — which was located next to his body — in search of a motive.

Yet criticism continues over whether authorities responded quickly enough to neutralize the gunman as well as the lack of transparency from some law enforcement officials following the shooting.

According to a timeline released by Texas DPS, several 911 calls were made by children inside the classroom where the gunman was located, all while police were stationed outside the room.

A Texas state legislator raised questions at a Thursday news conference about whether information on 911 calls from inside Robb Elementary was properly relayed to responders at the scene.

State Sen. Roland Gutierrez said he spoke with the agency that regulates the 911 calls, the Commission on State Emergency Communications, and was told the 911 calls were handled by and relayed to the city’s police force on the scene. However, what is unclear is if that information was relayed to the school district police chief, who was the incident commander on the scene.

“They were being communicated to a Uvalde police officer and the state agency that I have spoken to has not told me who that is,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez also said he wants to know more about what was happening at the school that day.

“I want to know where the cops were in that room. I want to know how many of my cops were in there, how many state troopers were there. I want to know how many state troopers were outside. I want to know how many federal officers were inside for 19 minutes, I mean for 45 minutes,” Gutierrez told reporters.

“I want to know specifically who was receiving the 911 calls,” he said.

CNN has contacted the Commission on State Emergency Communications, Uvalde Police and Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District for comment on Gutierrez’s statements.

Judge recounts trying to identify victims

As the community comes together to bury those lost, the justice of the peace who was on duty to serve as the de facto coroner recalled the tragic scene.

Judge Lalo Diaz Jr. found out about “an active shooter” situation from a police alert on social media, he told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on Thursday, dreading the possibility that fatalities would result.

But, not long afterward, “I hear the ambulances and I hear the officers and the sirens,” he said.

Called down to the elementary school, Diaz and a medical examiner from nearby Bexar County entered the crime scene hours after a Border Patrol tactical team had killed the gunman.

“My mind was just racing,” Diaz said, “Knowing that I was going to see something that was just unbelievable, that I would not have ever wanted to see.”

There, among the slain children, Diaz recognized teacher Irma Garcia, whom he knew from when they attended school together. Diaz was also friends with her husband, Joe Garcia, who died of a heart attack two days after the shooting.

“It breaks my heart,” Diaz said. “I’m seeing this devastation that these weapons did to the children and to these teachers, and it’s just unbelievable.”

Funeral services for the Garcias took place Wednesday, and additional funerals for the others killed will continue into the days ahead.

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