(CNN) — “I’m in room 112,” the girl tells the police telephone operator. “Please hurry up. There are a lot of dead bodies.”
The clear plea is heard in a call made at 12:10 pm by Khloie Torres, then 10 years old and trapped at Robb Elementary School with a gunman who has murdered her friends and a teacher. Khloie, now 11, survived.
“Please seek help. I don’t want to die. My teacher is dead. Oh Lord”.
The operator sends the message to the dozens, soon to be hundreds, of law enforcement officers who attend the school in Uvalde, Texas.
It has been more than 30 minutes since the teenager entered the school and fired into rooms 111 and 112.
And another 40 minutes go by from when Khloie gives details to authorities until a strike team storms the room and challenges the attacker at 12:50 pm.
CNN has heard this 911 call, and others made by the girl herself and classmates, whispering information and asking for help. It is the call that should have ended any doubt or hesitation that the teenage attacker was active, wandering between the two connected classrooms, that the children were trapped, injured and needed to be saved.
The entire police response has been doomed, almost from start to finish. And the agencies have blamed each other for changing the narratives since the May 24 massacre, for failing to follow up on the initial attempt to enter the classroom when the gunman returned fire, for treating the suspect as if he was barricaded but not as an active threat, and because of the long waits for equipment and specialized personnel.
Nineteen children and two teachers were killed that day, although at least one adult and one child were not killed immediately. Texas’s top cop, Department of Public Safety Director Col. Steven McCraw, acknowledged failures, most recently with grieving families last week, but insisted his department as a whole did not fail the community.
CNN obtained the calls from a source and is using excerpts with the approval of Khloie’s parents. CNN also informed the families who lost people in the massacre that this story was coming.
Khloie’s father, Ruben Torres, a former Marine, said he knew how hard it was to give good information when under pressure. “That day, the things that she did were absolutely incredible,” he said of his daughter. Of the adults who responded, he said, “None of them had any courage that day.”
an agonizing wait
“I need help please. Has the person been caught?” the fourth grader asks at 12:12 pm. And a few minutes later, “Do you want me to open the door now?”
Over and over, the operator tells Khloie to be quiet, to keep her terrified and injured friends quiet, and to wait.
“I tell everyone to shut up but no one listens to me,” he tells the operator. “I know what to do in these situations. My dad taught me when I was a child. Send help.”
She tells the 911 operator that her teacher, Eva Mireles, is alive but was shot and calls for an ambulance at 12:15 pm.
Outside, a final total of 376 armed police officers are gathering.
At 12:12 the radio call goes out: “Uvalde to any unit: Keep in mind that we do have a child on the line… room 12 [sic]. Is there anyone inside the building right now?
“Go ahead with that child’s information,” a response returns.
“The boy is warning that he [sic] It’s in the room full of victims, full of victims right now.”
“10-4”, confirmation arrives.
The announcement can be clearly heard on audio captured by body cameras worn by officers inside the school.
There was much confusion at the start of the large-scale response to the school shooting, which came after the gunman shot his grandmother in the head and crashed a van near the school, prompting emergency calls.
Once at the school, it was not immediately known whether the shooter went into an office or a classroom, or had victims with him.
But the call from Khloie and some of her classmates who got online or made their own attempts to ask for help was clear. And she knew herself.
The news spreads beyond those who heard the initial broadcast.
“Supposedly a child called when I was driving. He’s been in that room for an hour,” an officer tells a newly arrived first responder, apparently referring to the attacker.
“We don’t know if he has anyone in the room with him, do we?” asks an agent in the hallway outside the classrooms. “Yes, he has,” they reply. “Eight or nine children.”
Emergency doctor: ‘We’re taking too long’
As some talk of gas masks and shields and a command post, a Border Patrol emergency medical practitioner (EMT) arrives. He also knows about the children.
“EMT! EMT!” he yells at her as she asks how to get to the victims in “Room 12”. An agent shrugs. Another who has been on the scene for more than 20 minutes says, “No, we hadn’t heard that,” apparently referring to the injured children.
The doctor tells them, “They just had a child in room 12, multiple victims, room 12.” He walks into the hallway to where more agents are crowding. “They said children, room 12.”
There is talk of finding a skeleton key.
Then more shots.
The agents with long guns, helmets and bulletproof vests come a little closer and stop.
“F***. We are taking too long,” says the doctor.
Inside the classroom, Khloie begins her third 911 call.
“Can you tell the police to come to my room?” she asks. And again, minutes later, “Can you send a police officer now, please?”
She is told to keep quiet, to keep her classmates (some apparently groaning in pain) quiet, and to wait.
She told the operator that she thought she heard the police in the hallway and he again advised her to keep quiet.
Later, Khloie tells the police how she was using her teacher’s phone, how she knew how to make the emergency call without having to unlock the phone since it was just like her dad’s.
He also said that he had time to try to help his friends while the attacker was in the next classroom, where he killed all the students and injured the teacher.
“I stood up to look for Band-Aids because my friend had a big cut.”
So, fearing that the attacker might return to his room, he hid again, under a table.
The girl is on the call when officers finally force their way into the next room. Loud, long bursts of gunfire can be heard as the operator tells you, “Stay down. Do not get up. Stay down. No, don’t move.”
The girl survives. She is taken to the hospital on a school bus with other injured classmates, where she is able to talk face-to-face with one of the first responders and tell him that she was on the phone.
“I was trying not to cry,” he said.