Two years on: The Uvalde mom who evacuated her own children from the school shooting

Just after the 2022 shooting at Robb Elementary, she told cameras law enforcement tried to restrain her as she rushed to enter the school when she said police would not.

By Madison Jones & Laura RiceMay 15, 2024 12:36 pm, , ,

Angeli Rose Gomez said she spent about two weeks in jail on a charge of assaulting a public servant after refusing to comply with commands from law enforcement.

As the Uvalde community continues to grapple with what happened on May 24, 2022, Gomez said she’s faced harassment from some and been called a hero by others. She said she was “just a mom.”

She recalls the day started out happy.

“At first, it was a really good day because they – all the children – were graduating that day, so both my sons were graduating,” Gomez said.

She was picking onions that summer and said she had just returned to the field from ceremonies when she saw some people on their phones and crying.

“And I’m like, ‘What’s going on there?” she said. “They said, ‘There’s a shooting at the school.’”

She said she didn’t believe it at first but then got confirmation from her own mom, who was still at the school paying a library fine.

“She calls me like, ‘There’s something serious going on here at the school. Like, you need to get here now,’” Gomez said.

» Related: Voices from Uvalde

She said she got in her car and started driving toward Robb Elementary.

“I start going like about 100mph and, I’m like, coming into town and I’m just like, ‘Please, you know, like, I hope this is not real,’” Gomez said.

She said she parked in the drop-off area of the school and had her first encounter with law enforcement.

“And he’s like, ‘We’re going to tow your car,’” Gomez said. “I’m like, ‘Tow the car, like, do whatever you want with the car … I don’t know why you’re outside, standing outside the fence, talking to me, wasting your time talking to me. You need to be on the other side of the fence in there doing something. If you’re not going to do it, then I’m going to go ahead and do it.’”

She said she threw her body over the fence door and ran to her oldest son’s classroom.

“I just remember I’m banging on the teacher’s door,” she said “And she’s like, “‘Gomez, how did you get in?’”

She remembered yelling for her son to go and she sent him to her mother’s car while she went back for her other son.

“Well by the time I’m running to the other side of the campus, a lot of officers are on me already, and they’re like, ‘Ma’am, can you just wait, ma’am? Can we talk to you? Can you calm down, ma’am? Come here,’” she said. “And I’m like, ‘No, like, just get my son – start evacuating my son’s room or I’m like, going to start, like, just hitting whoever if you don’t get out of my way.’”

She said that’s when officers started evacuating children – starting with her son’s room. She said officers wanted parents to leave their children with school officials but parents, including her, weren’t listening.

“So when I’m running with my son, I feel another hand,” Gomez said. “And in that video where I’m running out, that’s not my son. The one on the right side, he’s actually my brother-in-law, but he’s my son’s age… and he’s like, ‘I’m going with you. I feel safe with you.’”

Next, Gomez said families headed to the Civic Center. That’s where she waited for her niece.

“I think I felt a lot of guilt because I had forgot my niece,” she said. “I saved my two sons and I didn’t save her, you know?”

» Texas Standard special report: Are Texas schools any safer since the Uvalde shooting?

While Gomez’s niece was OK, other parents starting noticing their kids weren’t coming off of the buses. She said officials told them to try calling hospitals.

“Well, in that moment, parents just start crying because they’re like, ‘We’re calling the hospitals and they’re not there.’ Like, you know, so everybody just starts crying,” Gomez said.

She said she went to H-E-B to get candles.

“Because I was like, ‘Maybe we just need to start praying, like, because something’s not right, because they’re not telling us where the kids are, like they’re saying to call the hospitals, but now where are they if they’re not there?’” Gomez said.

She remembered seeing trucks parking in front of the school the next few days and body bags being loaded in. Then came the vigils and funerals.

A photo of small white crosses bearing the names and photos of the students and teachers killed in the Uvalde School shooting.

A 2024 photo of one the memorials for the students and teachers killed in the Robb Elementary School shooting.

“I remember there was times where I would get so emotional and I would just start crying and feel guilty, like, should I have not saved my kids?” Gomez said. “Like, I felt bad sitting at the funerals like it should have been my kids in those boxes too, you know? But thank God they’re not. But, you know, sometimes it would make me think like that – second-guess my decision of what I did that day. But then I would always say, no, I would not change what I did because my sons wouldn’t be alive. You know? So well, thank God they weren’t in that room. But still, you never know.”

Now, she said both she and her sons are in counseling.

“I have one son that he has his days. You know, maybe something will pop up on Facebook or one of the children’s birthdays or, bumping into a family member, and he’ll, like, stop and think about it and make a comment like, ‘Oh, you know, that’s a sad mom’ or something like that,” Gomez said. “So it still affects them in ways; it just depends on what they’re seeing or what they’re doing, or if they see somebody of the parents from the children that were lost.

A team of students at Texas State University are working with Professor Eraldo “Dino” Chiecchi to continue to tell the stories of Uvalde. Here are their reflections on the project.

A photo of Madison JonesMadison Jones
Age: 20
Major: Journalism
Hometown: Belton, Texas
Graduation: May 2025

As a journalism student, this was the most eye-opening experience I have had since I decided that journalism was the path I wanted to take. I was nervous at first, however, I am eternally grateful that I was chosen to be a part of this team because of the life-long hold that it will have on my heart and mind. I can’t thank my team and my professor enough – none of this would have been possible without their help, guidance and support. I also want to thank the families that so graciously allowed me and my team to sit down and get to know them and their stories – your words will never be erased from my mind.  

A photo of Eraldo Chiecchi.Eraldo “Dino” Chiecchi, MFA
Texas State University
Multimedia journalism professor
Uvalde reporting project coordinator
Hometown: El Paso, Texas

This is the second time our journalism students visited Uvalde, Texas, to report on this senseless tragedy – the worst days of the lives of so many people. Our students reported these difficult stories on the mass killing of 19 students and two teachers with grace, empathy and with the respect the victims deserved. Parents of the victims commented to me immediately after the interviews and elsewhere just how well prepared the students were to interview them – even more than some national media. As a result, family members were candid telling the stories. Students and I talked a great deal about vicarious trauma – a real thing among journalists and others who deal with tragedy. Students talked at length, especially on the drive back home. We visited Uvalde on two different days and conducted one interview in Austin. At the end of the project, students produced quality journalism – stories, video and audio pieces, and exceptional photography.

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