Survivors of Mass Shootings Testify Before Congress

An emotional day on Capitol Hill included testimony from 11-year-old survivor, Miah Cerrillo, and her pediatrician. She presented before the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee as part of a hearing on gun violence.

House Oversight Hearing On Gun Violence Epidemic
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Miah Cerrillo smeared herself with her friend's blood and pretended to be dead.

That's how the 11-year-old survived the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, last month. On Wednesday, two weeks and one day after the massacre that killed 19 students and two teachers, Miah told her story to members of Congress in a pre-recorded video.

Miah described how students hid under a teacher's desk. She watched the gunman murder her teacher.

Her father, Miguel Cerrillo, said his daughter is "not the same little girl."

Miah's harrowing tale was one of several presented before the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee as part of a hearing on gun violence on Wednesday.

Dr. Roy Guerrero, a pediatrician in Uvalde, described in detail what it was like to treat wounded children and speak with victims' families.

"Those mothers' cries, I will never get out of my head," Dr. Guerrero said, adding, "I know I'll never forget what I saw that day."

Guerrero saw Miah first. He has been her pediatrician her entire life. He ran to tell her parents she was alive. But he couldn't do that for every parent. Two children were so "pulverized" and "decapitated" by bullets they could only be identified by "cartoon clothes still clinging to them," Guerrero recounted.

"Innocent children all over the country today are dead because laws and policy allows people to buy weapons before they're legally old enough to even buy a pack of beer," Dr. Guerrero said. "They're dead because restrictions have been allowed to lapse."

Lexi, a 10-year-old victim of the Uvalde shooting, is one of those children. Her parents, Felix and Kimberly Rubio, also spoke before the committee and insisted on action. Among their demands were background checks, which 81 percent of Americans support, and red flag laws.

Zeneta Everhart also urged lawmakers to pass legislation. Everhart and her 21-year-old son, Zaire Goodman, were at the supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood of Buffalo when a white supremacist opened fire last month. Goodman was one of 10 wounded. He survived, but 13 others did not. Everhart laid bare what life has been like for her family—and called for lawmakers to do more to prevent future massacres.

"To the lawmakers who feel that we do not need stricter gun laws, let me paint a picture for you: My son Zaire has a hole in the right side of his neck, two on his back, and another on his left leg caused by an exploding bullet from an AR-15. As I clean his wounds, I can feel pieces of that bullet in his back," Everhart said.

Everhart wasn't done.

"[If] hearing from me and the other people testifying here today does not move you to act on gun laws, I invite you to my home to help me clean Zaire's wounds so that you may see up close the damage that has been caused to my son and to my community," she said.

Gun reform advocates, including Greg Jackson Jr., the executive director of the Community Justice Action Fund, and Nick Suplina, the senior vice president for law and policy at Everytown for Gun Safety, also pleaded with lawmakers for change.

The House responded by passing the "Protecting Our Kids Act," 223-204, a sweeping measure that includes raising the legal age to purchase specific semiautomatic weapons from 18 to 21. It is unlikely to pass in the Senate.

U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) isn't giving up. She said in a statement she plans to hold a second hearing and wants to hear from members of the gun industry "so they can explain to the American people why they continue to sell the weapons of choice for mass murderers."

"The fight to protect our children from gun violence is far from over," Maloney's statement read. "But based on the bravery and determination our witnesses displayed today, I am confident it's a fight we can—and will—win."

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