Texas school shooting: Uvalde pastor details encounter with gunman, says ‘I saw it all’

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A church pastor who was one of the first to be fired at by Uvalde, Texas, school shooter Salvador Ramos is now speaking out about his harrowing experience. 

Gilbert Limones, who works as a Hillcrest Memorial Funeral Home attendant and preaches at Casa El Shaddai, a small church located less than a mile from Robb Elementary, has spent most of his days since the May 24 massacre helping prepare for the young victims’ burials and consoling shattered families. 

“Church, you are armed by this,” he said Sunday, holding up a Bible during his first sermon following the shooting that left 19 students and two teachers dead. 

“When tragedies happen, all the enemy needs is a willing vessel,” Limones also told his congregation of about 35, meeting in an old restaurant converted into a worship space.

Pastor Gilbert Limones, one of the first targets of a gunman who killed 21 people at an elementary school, speaks during an interview at the church he preaches at in Uvalde, Texas, on Sunday, June 5.

Pastor Gilbert Limones, one of the first targets of a gunman who killed 21 people at an elementary school, speaks during an interview at the church he preaches at in Uvalde, Texas, on Sunday, June 5. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)

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Limones said he recalls hearing someone yell about a weapon and then turning, only to hear the “pop, pop, pop” of gunfire behind him. The shooter was within about 150 feet of him but missed somehow, Limones said. 

Limones said he got away quickly, cringing at every shot, and called police as soon as he could. “I was screaming, screaming at 911,” he said. 

But Ramos turned the gun on the school’s exterior and then entered the building through a door that authorities say didn’t lock when a teacher pulled it shut.  

“I saw it all,” said Limones. 

Matthew Solano leaves sunflowers at a memorial to honor the victims killed in the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on Wednesday, June 1.

Matthew Solano leaves sunflowers at a memorial to honor the victims killed in the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on Wednesday, June 1. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Despite his brush with the killer, Limones went back to his job at the family-owned funeral home, which is small and was quickly overwhelmed. 

In his sermon, Limones said he believes the victims are in a better place, and he recounted the hundreds of people who have come to town with donations of food, water, prayers and more. Uvalde, he said, “is surrounded by love.” 

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Crosses bearing the names of the victims killed in the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting are seen through a balloon at a memorial at Robb Elementary School on Wednesday, June 1.

Crosses bearing the names of the victims killed in the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting are seen through a balloon at a memorial at Robb Elementary School on Wednesday, June 1. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

While townspeople are hurting badly right now and seeking answers, he said, they need to come together. God’s justice will ultimately prevail. 

“You don’t think that the shooter is having to speak to Our Father about what he did?” Limones said. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.