SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – In Sacramento, family members who live nearly two thousand miles from cousins, aunts, uncles, and parents near Uvalde, Texas feel helpless. They watch videos and interviews in the community, “where you grow up and you know people by their last names.”
The close-knit small town of a little more than 15,000 people is in mourning. It became the site of the second-worst school shooting in U.S. history when an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 children and two teachers inside a classroom. His motive is not clear, according to authorities.READ MORE: Sacramento Metro Fire Ramps Up Fire Resources For Fourth Of July Weekend
More than two dozen students were trapped inside the classroom with the gunman. Some of them, called 911 repeatedly begging for help. “Please send the police now,” one student said. Another call to report multiple people were dead, another call, to say eight to nine students were alive.
One of those students: 10-year-old Samuel Salinas.
“Yes, for some, it may seem like just a little town in Texas that no one has ever heard of, but for other people like me it’s closer to home than one would like to believe,” said April Ybarra, a Sacramento resident and family member of Salinas.
Salinas is Ybarra’s cousin’s son. She last saw him at a family reunion five years ago and said when she heard the news she thought of her aunt, his grandmother.
“The experience he’s had to live, I can’t imagine what his father’s going through. To have to think about that trauma,” said Ybarra.
In an interview with “Good Morning America,” Salinas recounted the terrifying moments inside the classroom as he watched his teacher, Irma Garcia, and classmates die.READ MORE: 'We're Sick Of The Number 22': Local Veterans Launch Nonprofit In Roseville To Help Other Veterans In Need
“When he went in the classroom he said you’re all gonna die and he just started shooting people,” Salinas told ABC News in an interview.
Ybarra said their family is thankful because a chair separating Salinas and the gunman protected him from gunshots. Salinas told ABC News he believed the gunman was aiming at him. Shrapnel from the chair, shattered by bullets, was lodged into his upper thigh. He is out of the hospital, according to Ybarra, but has a long road to recovery both physically and mentally.
“He [Salinas] had to watch his classmates go down as this person… this monster did what he did,” said Ybarra.
What Ybarra said she believes has gotten lost is many families have to get medical treatment in San Antonio because communities in the area, like Uvalde, “don’t have access to adequate medical care.” She said survivors’ families will likely have to take time off work to receive treatment and be able to stay with their children while they are treated.
“Oftentimes, we see these stories on the news and we forget about it, but this is something for me that will last a lifetime,” said Ybarra.
She said, as a parent with students in school in Sacramento City Unified School District, she vowed to do more to keep school safety at the top of mind for local leaders, too. She said nationally, locally, and beyond Uvalde, the shooting should be a call for action and change, not simply thoughts and prayers.MORE NEWS: 3 Homes Among Structures Destroyed By Fire In Olivehurst