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Uvalde Teacher Was On The Phone With Her Police Officer Husband In Final Moments, Judge Says
Uvalde County judge Bill Mitchell said officials had briefed them about some of the final moments that slain teacher Eva Mireles shared with her husband Ruben Ruiz, a police officer who was outside the school when she died.
Robb Elementary fourth grader teacher Eva Mireles spent her final moments talking with her husband — but the pair were tragically separated by the school walls.
Mireles was trapped inside the school after an 18-year-old gunman who forced his way into the building. He killed 19 elementary students, another teacher and Mirales, who died protecting her students.
Her husband Ruben Ruiz, a school district police officer, was just outside the school’s walls.
“She’s in the classroom and he’s outside. It’s terrifying,” Uvalde County judge Bill Mitchell said Wednesday, according to The New York Times, after attending a briefing by sheriff’s deputies.
Mitchell said the couple had been on the phone together in her final moments — although exactly when the phone call took place is unclear.
“I don’t know what was said,” Mitchell said.
The judge added that he believed the gunman had been in the midst of the deadly attack at the time.
“He’s outside hearing his wife: ‘I’m dying,’” he said, adding that he did not know the specific words the couple had said to one another.
The call adds further evidence that at least one of the officers on the scene had information that the gunman was inside a classroom filled with students — not barricaded alone in a room as authorities initially said they believed.
In the days since the deadly shooting, law enforcement officers have faced criticism for the decision to wait 78 minutes after the first 911 calls reported a shooter in the school to confront the gunman. A tactical team from the Border Patrol eventually stormed into the room and killed the assailant, but by then 21 people had lost their lives.
Mitchell said he didn’t know if Uvalde schools police chief Pete Arrendondo was given information about the call between the couple — which provided details about what was going on inside the building — at the time of the shooting.
Children inside the classroom had also allegedly been repeatedly calling 911 for help before law enforcement confronted thegunman.
Steven McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said at press conference last week that Arrendondo had made the decision to wait for backup and equipment before storming the classroom.
“From the benefit of hindsight, where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision,” McCraw said, according to The Texas Tribune. “It was the wrong decision, period. There’s no excuse for that.”
Gov. Greg Abbott, who had initially praised police for their response during the tragedy, also said he had been “misled” about the events of the day.
"I am livid about what happened," he said.
Mireles had been teaching for 17 years when she lost her life alongside fellow teacher, Irma Garcia.
Juan Maldonado, who had been a family friend of Mireles and a DPS Trooper, had been at Robb Elementary School the day of the shooting along with many other law enforcement officers and recounted his friend’s final moments.
“Eva is a fighter, and she did everything she could to protect her babies, and that’s her students,” Maldonado told local station KSAT. “So, we know she did everything she could, and she protected them until her last breath.”
Maldonado had spent time with Mireles, her husband and the couple’s daughter Adalyn the weekend before the deadly shooting. Maldonado said his own daughter is the same age as Adalyn and the two families had been close for years.
“I was able to take pictures of her and her daughter together. Ruben and I relaxed, and the girls did their thing. And it was just a wonderful moment that we were able to spend together as one family, and we will always be that one family,” he said.
Mireles’ sister, Maggie Mireles Thomas, described the anguish of losing her sister to CBS News.
“I wake up every morning and the first thing I do is cry because I know it’s real,” she said.
She described her sister as a devoted mother and wife who loved CrossFit, hiking and running.
Mireles Thomas now plans to devote her time toward advocating for gun control.
“I want everyone to remember her,” she said. “To remember her name, remember her face and remember that she was a hero.”