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Amid gun control pressure, lawmakers hear from families and students who survived Texas school shooting

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Amid renewed push for gun control on Capitol Hill, lawmakers heard dramatic testimony Wednesday from a fourth-grade student trapped in a Texas classroom for more than an hour as a gunman killed 19 of his classmates and two of his teachers.

Miah Cerrillo emotionally described smearing herself in her classmate’s blood and playing dead as Uvalde’s rampage unfolded, recounting the horror to the House Oversight Committee in recorded video. Cerrillo was not in the room, as expected, when the video was released.

Cerrillo said she and the other students were hiding behind the teacher’s desk and their backpacks when the shooter fired through their classroom window and eventually entered.

Miah Cerrillo, fourth-grade student at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and survivor of the mass shooting appears on a screen during a hearing of the House Committee on Gun Violence Oversight and Reform in Washington , DC, June 8, 2022.

Andrew Harnik/Pool via AFP/Getty Images

She said the shooter “said goodnight to my teacher and shot him in the head, then he shot some of my classmates and the whiteboard.” Cerrillo then talked about putting a classmate’s blood on herself lest the shooter return and also using her teacher’s phone to call 911.

Cerrillo said she didn’t feel safe at school. When asked on the video if she thought it would happen again, she nodded yes.

Her father tearfully told lawmakers on Wednesday that something had to change.

“She’s not the same little girl I used to play with and run with anymore,” he said.

PHOTO: Miguel Cerrillo, the father of Miah Cerrillo, a student who survived the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, wipes away a tear during a House Oversight Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, June 8, 2022.

Miguel Cerrillo, the father of Miah Cerrillo, a fourth-grader at Robb Elementary School who survived the May 24 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, wipes away a tear during a House Oversight Committee hearing on Capitol Hill Hill in Washington, DC on June 8, 2022.

Pool via ABC News

The committee also heard from other families traumatized by the massacres in Uvalde and Buffalo, New York, which killed a total of 31 people just 10 days apart.

Witnesses included Felix Rubio and Kimberly Rubio, parents of Lexi Rubio, a 10-year-old girl killed in Uvalde; Zeneta Everhart, the mother of Buffalo shooting survivor Zaire Goodman, who was shot in the neck while working at the store; and Roy Guerrero, a pediatrician from Uvalde who treated the victims.

Guerrero detailed the treatment of victims who arrived at Uvalde Memorial Hospital that day.

“Two children, whose bodies had been so pulverized by the bullets fired at them, decapitated, whose flesh had been so shredded, that the only clue as to their identities were the blood-splattered cartoon clothes still clinging them,” he said. “Clinging to life and finding none.

Pediatrician Dr. Roy Guerrero of Uvalde, Texas attends a House Oversight Committee hearing on ‘The Urgent Need to Address the Epidemic of Gun Violence’, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on June 8 2022.

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Through tears, Kimberly Rubio opened up about the last time she saw her daughter that morning. The family was at Robb Elementary School before filming to see Lexi receive a good citizen award and be recognized for being an A student.

“To celebrate, we promised to bring her ice cream that night,” Kimberly Rubio said. “We told her we loved her and would pick her up after school. I can still see her walking with us out. In the reel that keeps scrolling through my memories, she turns her head and smiles at us in return for acknowledging my promise. And then we left. I left my daughter at that school, and that decision will haunt me for the rest of my life.

Committee Chair, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, DN.Y., opened the hearing by asking her colleagues “to listen with open hearts to the courageous witnesses who have come forward to tell their stories of how violence army has had an impact on their lives”.

“Let us pay tribute to their courage,” she said. “And let’s find the same courage to pass common sense laws to protect our children.”

PICTURED: Lucretia Hughes testifies before the House Oversight Committee hearing on gun violence, June 8, 2022, in Washington DC.PICTURED: Lucretia Hughes testifies before the House Oversight Committee hearing on gun violence, June 8, 2022, in Washington DC.

Lucretia Hughes testifies before the House Oversight Committee hearing on gun violence, June 8, 2022, in Washington DC.

Pool via ABC News

Lucretia Hughes, a witness called by Republicans to testify Wednesday, had a different perspective on gun reform from families who spoke about their experiences in Buffalo and Uvalde. Hughes, whose 19-year-old son was killed in 2016 while playing dominoes at a party, said increased gun control was not the answer.

“Ten more laws, 20 more laws, 1,000 more won’t make what is already illegal worse or stop criminals from committing these crimes,” she said. “And you’re all delusional if you think that’s going to keep us safe. I’m a walking testimony to how the criminal justice system and gun control laws, which are steeped in racism, be it said by the way, failed the black community. By the age of 25, I had already been to the funerals of 18 young black men.”

“Something has to change. Thoughts, prayers and calls for more gun control are not enough. How about letting me defend myself from harm?” Hughes continued.

The hearing comes as negotiations continue on gun control. A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, is trying to reach a compromise this week on additional measures such as expanded background checks, incentives for states to implement red flag laws and funding for mental health programs.

Senate Democrats are seeking at least 10 Republican votes to reach the 60 needed to overcome a filibuster. If they don’t reach that milestone, they risk continuing a 30-year trend of inaction on gun reform, even in the wake of tragedies such as Sandy Hook, Las Vegas and Parkland.

Murphy provided an update on the talks during an appearance on “The View” on Tuesday, saying he’s never seen so much public pressure for elected officials to act and he hopes Republicans “feel that sense of emergency”.

“Although our views are very different, we both agree that we are not prepared to do anything that undermines people’s Second Amendment rights,” Murphy said. “We strive to keep guns away from dangerous people.”

President Joe Biden made an impassioned plea last week for more, including a ban on assault weapons like the AR-15 used in the Uvalde shooting, but most Republicans in Congress remain opposed to it. any gun restrictions.

Maloney said she feels there’s a new air of urgency to get gun control legislation on Biden’s desk in light of the mass shooting in Uvalde, and she hopes the Republicans will change their minds when they hear the witnesses speak first hand.

“Absolutely, there is a sense of urgency, and tomorrow we will be debating gun safety laws and voting on them. So hopefully their testimony will have an impact on the votes of these members of Congress,” said Maloney told ABC News on Tuesday. .

In a letter to Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said the House will vote Wednesday afternoon on the Protect Our Kids Act, the gun control package assembled after the mass shootings. in New York and Texas.

PHOTO: Buffalo Police secure the scene of a mass shooting at a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, NY, May 14, 2022. PHOTO: Buffalo Police secure the scene of a mass shooting at a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, NY, May 14, 2022.

Buffalo Police secure the scene of a mass shooting at a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, NY on May 14, 2022.

John Normile/Getty Images

A total of 19 young children and two teachers were killed by a gunman wielding an AR-15 type assault weapon at Robb Elementary School on May 24. The funeral of the victims continues until June 25. The Justice Department on Wednesday announced plans to review the police response to Uvalde after it took law enforcement 77 minutes to break through the door and kill the shooter.

In Buffalo, 10 black people were shot and killed at a Tops grocery store on May 14. The Department of Justice is investigating the shooting as a “hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism.”

PHOTO: Zeneta Everhart of Buffalo, NY, testifies before a House Gun Violence Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 8, 2022.PHOTO: Zeneta Everhart of Buffalo, NY, testifies before a House Gun Violence Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 8, 2022.

Zeneta Everhart of Buffalo, NY, testifies before a House Gun Violence Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 8, 2022.

Pool via ABC News

The mother of Buffalo shooting survivor Zaire Goodman described cleaning her son’s wounds on Wednesday as she called on Congress to do more.

“Shards of shrapnel will stay inside his body for the rest of his life,” she testified. “Now I want you to imagine this exact scenario for one of your children. This shouldn’t be my life or yours.”

ABC News’ Rachel Scott and Benjamin Siegel contributed to this report.

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