A Texas third-grader has refused to return to school in Uvalde after the mass shooting because he does not trust cops to protect him.
Zayon Martinez, who was among those cowering under a teacher’s desk as Salvador Ramos shot dead his friends, also said higher fencing will not keep a gunman out.
Instead, the youngster and his older sister are only willing to dial into classes remotely, according to their father.
It comes on the day schoolchildren were spotted returning to the classroom in the city over three months after the shooting killed 21 at Robb Elementary School.
Zayon Martinez — who was among the second graders cowering under a teacher’s desk as Ramos gunned down his friends — is afraid to return to classes in-person because he does not believe the town’s blundering cops will not be able to protect him
Zayon’s refusal comes as students throughout the town return to school on Tuesday following the massacre at Robb Elementary School in May
Students were escorted into the new Uvalde Elementary School on Tuesday
A young girl is seen here getting off a school bus at one of the Uvalde elementary schools
A teacher hugs a student arriving at the new Uvalde Elementary for the first day of school on Tuesday, where some students who were in second and third grade at Robb Elementary School last year are attending
Personnel from Uvalde Elementary School, wearing Uvalde t-shirts, greeted students as they arrived for the first time since the Robb Elementary School massacre
Zayon’s father Adam Martinez told CNN: ‘I went and talked to my son, and I told him, ‘They’re gonna have more cops. They’re gonna have higher fencing,’ and he wasn’t having it. ‘It doesn’t matter. They’re not gonna protect us.’
Martinez said both his son, Zayon, and his 12-year-old daughter, Analiyh, have opted for online learning — though they may reassess after the first semester.
‘I talked to my son and daughter, and they said that they were afraid that if it happened again, they weren’t going to be protected,’ Adam said.
He added that not all of the security measures are in place yet, with fences only up around two of the eight schools so far.
‘There’s no fencing at the junior high where my daughter would be going,’ Adam told CNN. ‘There’s no way that I’m gonna convince her to go, when there’s no fencing.’
‘If you’re scared, you can’t learn,’ he added to Texas Public Radio. ‘When you’re in an unsafe environment, it’s gong to be hard to interact with other children, when you’re constantly looking around making sure that nothing happened.’
But remote learning is not an option for all parents, including single mom Angeli Gomez, who told Texas Public Radio: ‘I can’t stay home, I have to work.
‘So then who’s gonna watch our kids?’
Victim Uziyah Garcia’s uncle, Brett Cross, who was raising Uziyah as his own son, also said his two 15-year-old daughters have decided to return to school in person.
He said they are old enough now to make their own decisions with their parent’s guidance, ‘but my little ones (ages 7 and 10), we’re not certain yet.’
‘I don’t feel like everything has been done to protect our children.’
A boy wearing a ‘United we stand’ shirt walked past the new fencing at Uvalde Elementary School for the first day of school
Teachers waited outside the fencing to greet students as they stepped off the bus
A teacher is seen here escorting two students into the Uvalde Elementary School
Texas Department of Public Safety officers are seen standing outside the Flores Elementary School on Tuesday as students arrived
Workers continued construction on fencing at all eight schools in the Uvalde School District on Tuesday, as they are currently only erected at two schools
School officials have worked throughout the summer to improve safety measures at the school and have even fired its embattled police chief after a report found that cops stood back for more than an hour as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos barricaded himself inside a classroom and opened fire.
As part of its plan to improve safety measures, no students will be returning to Robb Elementary School, the site of the deadliest school massacre in nearly a decade.
Instead, CNN reports, children who were first-graders at Robb last year will start second grade at Dalton Elementary, and those who were in second and third grade at Robb last year will attend the new Uvalde Elementary — located at an existing educational complex in town.
The district has also employed 33 Texas Department of Public Safety officers to monitor the schools — none of whom would be among the dozens who failed to promptly respond to the shooting.
School officials have also hired 10 more police officers to patrol the school, installed 500 new security cameras, fired embattled schools police chief Pete Arredondo and are searching to a new superintendent.
Additionally, they are increasing the district’s emotional support services for students, with comfort dogs on every campus for the first few weeks of school and more school counselors and trauma-informed care training for all staff members.
Those who still feel uncomfortable could also sign up for remote learning, using tablets provided by the school district.
Others, though, have now decided to transfer to the local Catholic School, where enrollment among elementary-school aged children has doubled after 30 students from Robb Elementary School received scholarships to the private school.
Police-worn body camera footage showed how officers stayed in the hallway for more than an hour as Salvador Ramos continued to fire
A report released in July by the Texas House committee investigating the May 24 shooting found that nearly 400 local, state and federal officers stood in the hallway for 77 minutes as Ramos killed students and teachers
It said that responding officers lacked clear leadership, basic communication and sufficient urgency to more quickly confront the gunman
The return to school comes just two months after a damning Texas House committee report found that nearly 400 local, state and federal officers stood in the hallway for 77 minutes as Ramos killed students and teachers on May 24.
It said that responding officers lacked clear leadership, basic communication and sufficient urgency to more quickly confront the gunman — who was ultimately shot and killed by a US Border Tactical Team.
Salvador Ramos, 18, barricaded himself in two adjoining classrooms at Robb Elementary School on May 24 where he opened fire and killed 19 students and two teachers
But, according to the report, Uvalde Schools Police Chief Pete Arredondo was listed in the district’s active-shooter plan as the commanding officer.
He did not take charge during the shooting, according to those interviewed by the House committee, and no one else assumed the role from him.
Arredondo has said he did not think he was the incident commander, claiming he never gave any of the other officers orders and did not have his radio on him because he wanted to have both arms free to engage the shooter.
He testified to the House committee that he believed Ramos was a ‘barricaded suspect’ rather than an ‘active shooter’ after seeing an empty classroom next to the one where Ramos was hiding.
The report ultimately criticized Arredondo’s focus on trying to find a key to open a door to the classroom at the time, though the door was likely already open.
Texas Gov Greg Abbott is seen passing in front of a memorial outside the elementary school to honor the victims in May
Robb Elementary School is now permanently closed, with its students relocated
Nineteen students at Robb Elementary School and two teachers were killed in the massacre
Over the course of the shooting, Ramos barricaded himself into two adjoining second-grade classrooms killing a majority of the students.
Nearby, the Associated Press reports, Elsa Avila tried keeping her 16 students calm as they waited in their classroom for an hour for help as she lay there bleeding.
She had been motioning students to get away from the walls and windows and get closer to her as Ramos stalked through the halls of Robb Elementary School.
A student lined up by the door for recess had just told her something was going on outside: People were running and screaming.
As she slammed the classroom door so the lock would catch, her students took their well-practiced lockdown positions.,
Moments later, Ramos stormed into their fourth-grade wing and began spraying bullets before ultimately making his way into rooms 111 and 112.
In nearby room 109, Avila repeatedly texted for help, according to messages reviewed by The Associated Press.
The first text to her family, sent at 11.35am, was actually meant for the teacher group chat. She then sent another three minutes later to the school’s vice principal.
By 11.45am, Avila responded to a text from the school’s counselor asking if her classroom was on lockdown with: ‘I’m shot, send help.’
When the principal assured her that help was on the way, Avila simply replied ‘Help.’
It remains unclear whether her messages were relayed to the police as they waited outside.
Teacher Elsa Avila was shot in the deadly rampage and was left bleeding in her classroom for an hour as she asked for help
Avila recalls hearing the bursts of rapid fire, then silence, before officers in the hallway yelled ‘Crossfire!’
‘But still nobody came to help us,’ she said.
As Avila lay motionless, unable to speak loud enough to be heard, some of her students nudged and shook her. She said she wished for the strength to tell them she was still alive.
A light flashed into their window, but nobody identified themselves. Scared it might be the gunman, the students moved away.
‘The little girls closest to me kept patting me and telling me, ‘It’s going to be OK miss. We love you miss,” Avila said.
Finally, at 12.33 p.m. a window in her classroom broke. Officers arrived to evacuate her students — the last to be let out in the area, according to Avila.
With her remaining strength, Avila pulled herself up and helped usher students onto chairs and tables and through the window. Then, clutching her side, she told an officer she was too weak to jump herself. He came through the window to pull her out.
‘I never saw my kids again. I know they climbed out the window and I could just hear them telling them, ‘Run, run, run!” Avila said.
She remembers being taken to the airport, where a helicopter flew her to a San Antonio hospital. She was in and out of care until June 18.
Avila later learned that a student in her class was wounded by shrapnel to the nose and mouth but had since been released from medical care. She said other students helped their injured classmates until officers arrived.
‘I am very proud of them because they were able to stay calm for a whole hour that we were in there terrified,’ Avila said.
Avila will not be returning to the district this year as she is still recovering from the gunshot wound.
Each day, she walks up to eight minutes at a time on the treadmill in physical therapy and is going to counseling.
A GoFundMe for her recovery has since raised over $21,000.
One day, Avila says, she would like to return to teaching.
Uvalde schools police chief Pete Arredondo has since been fired from his position
The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District’s board of education ultimately voted last month to fire Arredondo, who had been on leave from the district since June 22.
Arredondo did not attend the meeting, claiming he did not feel safe doing so.
Instead, he sent the school officials a 17-page document outlining why his job should be saved, asking to be taken off suspension and receive backpay.
He made the request through his attorney, George E Hyde, who told the school board: ‘Chief Arredondo will not participate in his own legal and unconstitutional public lynching, and respectfully requests the board immediately reinstate him with all backpay and benefits, and close the complaint as unfounded.’
Hyde also released a scathing 4,500-word letter that amounted to the police chief’s fullest defense to date of his actions.
Over the 17 defiant pages, Arredondo asserts he is not the fumbling school police chief who a damning state investigation blamed for not taking command and wasted time by looking for keys to a likely unlocked door, but is instead a brave officer whose level-headed decisions saved the lives of other students.
He accused officials of putting the blame on him because he is a Mexican, and noted that he told administrators long before the shooting about the need for new locks and better fencing.
The letter also accused Uvalde school officials of putting his life at risk by not letting him carry a weapon to the school board meeting.
‘Chief Arredondo is a leader and a courageous officer who with all of the other law enforcement officers who responded to the scene, should be celebrated for the lives saved, instead of vilified for those they couldn’t reach in time,’ Hyde said.
Arredondo is now the first officer dismissed over the bungled response to the May 24 tragedy, with only one other officer — Uvalde Police Department Lt. Mariano Pargas, the city’s acting police chief on the day of massacre — known to have been placed on leave for their actions during the shooting.
Meanwhile, state and federal investigations into the shooting are ongoing, and the Uvalde school district has not yet started its own investigation into the officers’ response.