An off-duty border patrol agent, whose wife and daughter survived the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that claimed the lives of 19 kids and two teachers, is opening up about what unfolded at the scene.
Jacob Albarado is a border patrol officer who was at his local barber shop to get a haircut when his wife Trisha, a fourth grade teacher at the school, sent him a text letting him know what was happening.
“There’s an active shooter. Help. Love you,” she wrote.
Albarado borrowed a shotgun from his barber and raced to the school, where his 8-year-old second grade daughter, Jayda, was also locked down.
“Chaos,” he told TODAY on Tuesday when asked to describe the scene when he arrived.
“Everyone was trying to get to the school. People were trying to get everything situated. I was just trying to get towards my wife’s room and my daughter’s room.”
Albarado says he worked with other officers to get children out of the school, learning later this his wife and daughter had hidden under desks, while his daughter even had to hide in a locked bathroom.
Working as an agent in Uvalde proved to be beneficial to helped Albarado as he arrived on the scene.
“It’s a small community. My wife works at Robb. Everyone at Robb knows me,” he said. “Pretty much all local law enforcement knows me or I know the majority of them, so I was able to go in and I announced who I was and made my way through.”
Albarado continued to take kids to safety, while looking for his own daughter. He says a pair of officers offered cover with guns drawn, while he was among those whisking kids and teachers to safety. He continued to help, even after finding out his own family was out of harm’s way.
Albarado says he didn’t have any gear and was not on duty, so he didn’t go inside the school.
“I could just see kids coming out of the windows and kids coming my way, so I was just helping all the kids out,” he said.
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“The police were breaking out the windows on the outside and the kids were jumping out through the window,” he said. “They’re jumping out through the window down the parking lot, down the pavement headed towards the funeral home.”
Albarado found his daughter and continued to help other kids.
“When I saw my daughter it was a big relief,” he said.
“I was trying to just keep them as calm as I could as they were evacuating,” he added.
The police response to the shooting has come under heavy scrutiny, with senior law enforcement officials saying more than 30 minutes went by before federal officers bypassed guidance to stand by, with the gunman killed more than an hour after he got into the school. The Justice Department plans to conduct a critical incident review.
Albarado says the people responding to the situation were only trying their hardest.
“To me, I believe everyone there was doing the best that they could, given the circumstances. I believe everyone there was doing everything in their power,” he said.