Inside Robb Elementary School: Families of victims, survivors recount what happened that tragic day

"20/20" shares an unprecedented and complete account of the mass shooting.

With summer break just two days away, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, started out as a special one for elementary school students in Uvalde, Texas.

At Robb Elementary, the year-end award ceremony brought together families and loved ones to celebrate student accomplishments that academic year. As the ceremony wound down, some students were taken home by their parents, while others stayed in school.

Alexandria "Lexi" Rubio, 10, received the Citizen's Award from her fourth-grade teacher, Arnie Reyes.

"The Citizen's Award was one that I hadn't expected," said Kimberly Rubio, Lexi's mom, who attended the ceremony. "But that's Lexi. She's just a great person. And I'm glad that her teacher and her peers knew this."

Lexi Rubio is seen smiling next to her teacher Arnie Reyes, who handed her the award certificates that morning.
Rubio Family

Gloria and Javier Cazares were also in the audience celebrating their daughter Jacklyn "Jackie" Cazares. "This is one of the last pictures that I took of Jackie, and she's with her friends," Gloria Cazares said as she showed ABC News the photo.

From left to right: Jackie Cazares, Eliahna Torres, Lexi Rubio, Layla Salazar and Navaeh Bravo.
Cazares Family

Javier Cazares remembered saying goodbye to Jackie after the ceremony. "I blew her a kiss not knowing that was going to be the last," Javier Cazares said.

Later that morning, at 11:33 a.m., an 18-year-old gunman entered the hallways of Robb Elementary carrying an AR-15-style rifle, and devastatingly changed the course of that day.

The massacre claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers, making it the second-deadliest school shooting in the United States.

Survivors and families in Uvalde shared what they experienced on May 24, for a new "20/20" "It Happened Here — A Year in Uvalde," which airs Friday, May 19 at 9 p.m. ET, on ABC, and streams the next day on Hulu.

Ten-year-old Caitlyne Gonzales remembered watching a movie alongside her classmates and teacher Mercedes Salas in classroom 106 as the shooting began.

Inside room 106, where students were watching a movie moments before the shooter entered Robb Elementary.
Obtained by ABC News from Texas Dept. of Public Safety Investigative File

"We were all comfy with our shoes off and then everything happened," Caitlyne Gonzales said.

Mercedes Salas said she heard the sound of gunfire getting closer to her classroom. "The movie was paused, so zero sounds were coming out of my classroom," Salas said. "I went into locking down my classroom just from the sounds."

Teacher Elsa Avila was in classroom 109 when she heard someone in the hallway alerting everyone to get in their rooms.

A graphic rendering by ABC News shows the layout of the classrooms where the shooting unfolded inside Robb Elementary on May 24, 2022.
ABC News

"I turned off the lights, and I told the kids, 'Let's move! Let's move!" Avila said. "They knew that was the signal that you know we're in lockdown."

Kimberly Rubio, who worked as a reporter at the local newspaper, went straight to work after attending the award ceremony that morning. She heard an alert on the police scanner at her office about a shooting near Robb Elementary.

Kimberly Rubio immediately texted her husband Felix Rubio, then an Uvalde County Sheriff Deputy, who was off duty that day. Felix then turned on his radio to hear what was happening.

"I just hear panic in everybody's voices," Felix Rubio recalled.

Felix and Kimberly Rubio tell ABC News about learning that there was a shooting at Robb Elementary.
ABC News

ABC News obtained materials from the Texas Department of Public Safety investigative file, including body camera footage and photographs from inside Robb Elementary. This is the first time many of these images and details are being shown publicly.

In interviews with the FBI in the weeks following the shooting, students Khloie Torres and Miah Cerrillo described what they remembered happened in classroom 112.

Khloie Torres (left) and Miah Cerillo (right) recount what happened inside classroom 112 on May 24, 2022.
Obtained by ABC News from Texas Dept. of Public Safety Investigative File

"Right when he came in, everybody was screaming," 10-year-old Khloie Torres said in the FBI interview. "He said, 'Goodnight,' and he started shooting everybody."

"He tried to shoot at me," 11-year-old Miah Cerillo said in the FBI interview. "I, like, faked that he shot me, and I like, just fell down."

Arnie Reyes was in classroom 111, which connects with classroom 112 via interior double doors. He was in the room with eleven of his students.

A photo from inside classroom 112 shows the interior double doors that connected the classroom of Irma Garcia and Eva Mireles with Arnie Reyes’ classroom.
Obtained by ABC News from Texas Dept. of Public Safety Investigative File

The gunman shot inside the two adjoining classrooms. Reyes told his students to "close their eyes and get in place."

Reyes was wounded by gunshots to his arm and back. "It was just so, so fast," said Reyes, "and he shot my kids after that."

Teacher Elsa Avila said she was shot in the abdomen while trying to protect her students. Though she was two classrooms away from the gunman, a stray bullet had traveled through walls and struck her. She texted her friend Mercedes Salas.

Photo of the stray bullet that went through classroom 109's wall.
Obtained by ABC News from Texas Dept. of Public Safety Investigative File

"My hands were shaking," Salas recalled after reading the text message she received from Avila. "She said, 'Friend, I'm shot. I'm bleeding, help me.'

What Salas said happened next, is something that has been seared in her memory.

"Then we hear screaming. And it was the worst screams I have ever heard," Salas said. Following the screaming, Salas said she heard gunshots – then silence. "And my brain is like "Oh my God, he just killed them. So I heard them die."

Teacher Mercedes Salas speaks with '20/20' about what happened in her classroom 111 at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas.
ABC News

Outside the school, parents had descended on the school campus in large numbers after hearing about the shooting.

In body camera footage, a Robb Elementary mom is heard saying, "Nobody understands what we are going through, we are parents! Our kids are in there!"

Miguel Cerillo, Miah's dad, was among the parents outside the school who were growing impatient with law enforcement securing the perimeter. "I said, 'Well, what are y'all doing? Y'all are just standing around,'" Cerrillo said.

Police body camera footage shows parents outside Robb Elementary school trying to locate their children after a gunman entered the school building.
Obtained by ABC News from Texas Dept. of Public Safety Investigative File

Back inside Robb Elementary, almost half an hour had passed and the gunman was still in the building. Khloie Torres made several phone calls to 911 from her teacher's cell phone in classroom 112. In audio released from the 911 calls, she's heard begging law enforcement through whispers to come and rescue her and her classmates.

"Please hurry, there's a lot of dead bodies," Khloie said on the 911 call. "I know how to handle these situations. My dad taught me when I was a little girl. Send help for my teachers. They're still alive, but they're shot."

Miah, who also called 911, and Khloie survived inside classroom 112, where six students and two teachers, Irma Garcia and Eva Mireles, were killed.

Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo made the decision to evacuate the other classrooms first. He is heard on police body camera saying, "Time is on our side right now. We're going to have kids in there, but we got to save the lives of the other ones."

Officers eventually broke into classroom windows to evacuate students and teachers. The shooter had yet to be killed.

Families gathered at the local funeral home, across the street from Robb Elementary, to reunite with their loved ones.

"We got up and started running to the funeral home by climbing out of the window," Caitlyne Gonzales said.

Elsa Avila described the glass from her classroom window being smashed by police and officers yelling at the kids to quickly exit.

"After the last student was out, they started to tell me, 'Come on, ma'am. Come on. Let's go.'"

One of the officers had to jump into the classroom to help Elsa, as she couldn't move from the pain of getting shot.

Teacher Elsa Avila speaks with '20/20' about what happened in her classroom 109 at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas.
ABC News

At 12:50 p.m., 77 minutes after the gunman entered Robb Elementary, law enforcement breached classrooms 111 and 112, killing the gunman.

"I finally hear the banging of the chairs," Reyes said. "That's when I said, 'They're here. They're coming in.'"

Felix Rubio watched as first responders rushed children out of the school. He didn't see his daughter Lexi. Some students were being transported in school buses to the local civic center, so he instructed Kimberly to go there.

"My husband does not panic," Kimberly Rubio said, "but he sounded terrified."

At the civic center, Kimberly and Felix Rubio waited for Lexi to arrive off the bus. "I think the longer we waited, the more it became clear that something was wrong," Kimberly Rubio said.

Families were beginning to be notified about the unthinkable news.

"They let us know our baby is gone," Felix Rubio said.

Lexi and her parents Kimberly and Felix Rubio at the morning awards ceremony at Robb Elementary.
Rubio Family

Gloria and Javier Cazares, who were at the school, headed to the hospital after hearing Jackie might be there, and were notified hours later that she was no longer alive.

"I went to my knees and started talking to her," Javier Cazares said. "We were both apologizing for not being able to protect her."

Jackie Cazares poses in this family photo taken at her First Communion about two weeks before May 24, 2022.
Cazares Family

All eleven students who were in classroom 111 at the time of the shooting, including Lexi and Jackie, were killed. Teacher Arnie Reyes was the sole survivor.

"The hard thing for me has been, as a teacher, as an education, you never think about losing a student," Arnie Reyes said. "To lose 11 at a time, at one single time, and then to lose your coworkers that worked right beside you. And then other little kids that were in that class that you knew. It's a lot at once."