Miah Cerrillo, a fourth grade student at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and survivor of the mass shooting appears on a screen during a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 8, 2022.(Jason Andrew//The New York Times via AP, Pool)

By Special to the AFRO

Various mass shooting survivors told their stories during a gun violence hearing on June 8. This is following last week’s congressional gun hearing in Texas, in which House Democrats decided to combine several gun policy bills into one large package known as the Protecting Our Kids Act.

“After 19 innocent children and two teachers lost their lives in Texas just ten days after the mass shooting in my home state of New York, I’m turning my anger into action.  Our hearing will examine the terrible impact of gun violence and the urgent need to rein in the weapons of war used to perpetrate these crimes,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), the chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform.” It is my hope that all my colleagues will listen with an open heart as gun violence survivors and loved ones recount one of the darkest days of their lives.  This hearing is ultimately about saving lives, and I hope it will galvanize my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass legislation to do just that.” 

The testimonies were gruesome. Miah Cerrillo, a Robb Elementary School fourth grader, spoke about the moment one of her teachers was shot, as the killer went back and forth between two adjoined classrooms.

“There’s a door between our classrooms and he went through there and shot my teacher. He shot her in the head and then he shot some of my classmates and the white board,” she testified. “When I went to the backpacks, he shot my friend that was next to me and I thought he was going to come back to the room.”

“I got a little blood and I put it all over me and I just stayed quiet. I got my teacher’s phone and called 911,” Cerrillo continued “I told her that we need help and to send the police.”

But help didn’t come. 

Chief of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Department, Pete Arredondo, believed it best to treat the mass shooting in progress as a barricade situation that could be waited out, according to statements made in press conferences by Steven McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 35 mass shootings since the Uvalde shooting, and 15 since the Texas gun hearing. 

Maloney said in a statement that “the Committee has been in close contact with Miah, her family, and her pediatrician and has been prioritizing her safety and comfort first and foremost.” 

As a result, the fourth grader testified virtually via recording.

“Her decision to record her story and share it with the American people is courageous – and I hope all Members open their hearts and minds to what she has to say.”

Zeneta Everhart, the mother of Ziare Goodman, a survivor of the Buffalo market shooting, provides a detailed account of the event from her son’s eyes. 

He was shot while assisting a customer in the parking lot of Tops supermarket and played dead as the shooter passed him.

“Let me paint a picture for you: My son Zaire has a hole in the right side of his neck, two on his back and another on his left leg. Caused by an exploding bullet from an AR-15,” she said. “As I clean those wounds I can feel pieces of that bullet in his back.” 

“I want you to picture that exact scenario for one of your children,” Everhart continued. “This should not be your story or mine.”

The House hearing on gun violence can be found live on Youtube. 

Aside from the major mass shootings that have gripped the nation’s attention, everyday gun violence in the Black community was also addressed. 

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