The parents of a 10-year-old victim of the massacre at a Uvalde elementary school last month say they miss their son – even though he is one of the survivors.
Gilbert Mata was in one of the classrooms at Robb Elementary School, where the gunman killed 19 children and two teachers. Though the wound to his leg is healing, the experience has changed their child forever, Corina Camacho and Michael Martínez told CNN.
“I just miss him dancing around, picking on his little brother, singing,” Camacho said. “He does still sing, but it’s different.”
According to Gilbert’s FBI Interview transcript summarized by his attorney, the gunman walked in with what Gilbert described as creepy music blaring from his phone and said, “It’s time to die…you guys are mine.”
Gilbert’s teachers shielded him while he was crouched under a table, but a bullet that hit one of his friends ricocheted and hit Gilbert in the leg, according to his attorney, Stephanie Sherman.
Many of his friends died in the attack, though, and one of the first things he did after reuniting with his father was to tell him all of the names of those who died, and where they died.
His best friend was one of those who died right in front of him, and every day now, he wants to go comfort his friend’s mother, Martínez says.
The experience robbed his son of his innocence and left him with post-traumatic stress disorder – a difficult thing for a grown military veteran to deal with, much less a 10-year-old child, Martínez says.
“We’re scared to put him back in school. He says he’s ready, but when he goes to where they take care of him in the day time, he just freaks out, panic attacks,” Martínez said. “We really don’t know what we’re doing right now. But we’re just going with the flow,” trying to figure out what Gilbert needs.
The boy is easily angered, unlike earlier, and he’s trying to work on that, his father says.
Sherman is working on lawsuits against the gun maker and others. She says she partially hopes to get compensation for therapy for the boy.
“My job is to provide a pathway forward for my client, and that is a bridge to healing resources, mental health care, money,” Sherman said. “How do you pay for this? PTSD is a lifelong sentence, and it requires therapy, maybe medication, maybe specialized therapy, exposure therapy, not just going to talk to someone, but actually going through events and rewiring your brain to not be afraid.”
Sherman also believes they may have a case against gun manufacturer Daniel Defense. “Yes, this is a civil right to bear arms, but we also live in a society,” she told CNN.
“You have a pattern and practice of 18-year-olds doing mass shootings,” she added. “I believe I can make a products liability argument that, you make a dangerous product and put it into the wrong hands just like anything else.”
Daniel Defense hasn’t responded to CNN requests for comment but posted a statement describing the shooting as an “evil act.”
Sherman is not allowing Gilbert to be interviewed because “its very triggering,” she said.
As are many in the country, Gilbert’s parents wonder how authorities allowed the gunman to rampage for more than an hour-and-a-half before intervening and killing him.
They were among the concerned moms and dads waiting outside the school for at least 45 minutes, waiting to find out whether their child was alive.
When Gilbert was brought out of the building, he was being carried, bloodied, to a bus. Frantic, Carmacho and Martínez called to him to crawl out the bus window, and “he just hopped out,” Martínez said.
“We took him, I grabbed him,” Martínez said. And after someone checked his leg, “We took off” for the hospital,” he added.