SACRAMENTO, Calif. — 10-year-old Samuel Salinas is still recovering from shrapnel that was lodged in his legs after surviving the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Texas.
“I was playing dead,” he told ABC News.
21 people were killed in the shooting, making it the second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. 19 of Samuel's 3rd and 4th grade schoolmates were killed along with his teacher, Irma Garcia.
"He shot my teacher, and then he shot the kids and then I guess like, I think, he was aiming at me,” Samuel told ABC.
He said a chair became a makeshift shield that blocked any direct hits.
Later that day, his late mother’s cousin, April Ybarra, got the news in Sacramento. She got the news after also hearing about a firearm and loaded magazine found in a second grader’s desk at Edward Kemble Elementary School.
“Immediately, here I am again. I have a cousin who has a second-grader at Edward Kemble, so you can imagine immediately where my mind went after just hearing - but my cousin's son was in this traumatizing event. Knowing that here locally, it also affected my family," she said.
Ybarra said she wants both school officials and government leaders to take action in several forms, which includes training for staff and officers, hardening schools, improving mental health and banning semi-automatic rifles.
“I believe that we do need to have the right to bear arms, but I also believe that there are certain weaponry that we really don't need,” she said.
Ybarra said she can only imagine what her hometown in Texas is going through as they look to heal, knowing many families already do not have adequate access to medical and mental healthcare, which includes her cousin’s son, Samuel as well.
“I just hope that he gets the care that he needs, because... he's got a long life ahead of him. You're looking at parents losing time from work to be able to take care of their family, go through the trauma themselves - they're going to need that care as well,” she said.
She said it starts with holding leaders accountable, and after a traumatizing week for her family, she said she’s tired of thoughts and prayers
“I'm a woman of faith, and I believe prayer is the first thing that you do in these situations, but it needs to stop this weaponizing Christianity and the Bible to protect their their beliefs and idolize what they believe to be right. And if this is what they're going to save and they need to pray for the wisdom to make the right decisions to ensure that we're a country strong, and without these mass shootings continuing to happen or pray and get out of the way and let the people who can do it, do it," Ybarra said.