ODESSA, TX (KOSA) -- At Thursday night's Democratic debate in Houston, presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke made a bold claim to the world about what happened in Odessa the day of the mass shooting:
"I am if it is a weapon that was designed to kill people on a battlefield; if they high impact high velocity round when it hits your body shreds everything inside of your body because it was designed to do that so that you would bleed to death on a battlefield and not be able to get up and kill one of our soldiers.
When we see that being used against children and in Odessa I met the mother of a 15-year-old girl who was shot by an AR-15 and that mother watched her bleed to death over the course of an hour because so many other people were shot by that AR-15 in Odessa and Midland there weren't enough ambulances to get to them in time. Hell yes we are going to take your AR-15, your AK-47."
The claim that there weren't enough ambulances is false, according to information given to CBS7 by Odessa Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Rodd Huber.
The OFR arrived at Freedom Buick GMC Truck on 42nd Street 7 minutes and 21 seconds after Leilah Hernandez and her brother Nathan were reported shot to 911, according to the department's report that Huber read to us.
An ambulance arrived about a minute later.
We're told that all eight ambulances and eight fire trucks staffed with paramedics in Odessa were scrambled two Saturdays ago after the shooting started. An additional ambulance responded that day, too. Plus, the City of Midland Fire Rescue sent many over to assist and OFR called other agencies in as a back-up.
Statistically speaking, Mr. O'Rourke is correct if you only take into account the number of emergency vehicles in Odessa. More than 30 people shot - either injured or killed - and the city only had a total of 17 vehicles able to respond.
But, emergency responders also have a system in place called "mutual aid." When something gets to big to handle, like a fire or what happened Labor Day weekend, nearby cities like Midland pitch in to help. It helps fill in the gaps.
The City of Odessa does admit that because it was a holiday weekend, it had a limited number of 911 operators working that day and that it took awhile for callers to get through to dispatch.
In a post on the CBS7 News Facebook page under this story, Joanna Leyva, Leilah's mother, disputes the city's information.
She writes, "Cbs 7 and to the city thats a lie and i have proof since i was calling 911 and my call wasnt going through i have the calls where it shows the times that i was calling and since they got there..it was no 7 minutes and nobody knows not even the city because they were not there at the time but my family and I."
We messaged Mrs. Leyva back and invited her to share her side of this story with us. We haven't heard back from her.
We also reached out to the Beto O'Rourke campaign on Friday morning for a comment.
The Odessa Firefighters Association responded to O'Rourke's comment on Friday night. The Facebook post by President Tyler Houchin stated:
"In last nights Democratic Debate, Presidential Candidate O’Rourke slandered the response of the Odessa Fire Rescue to the recent mass shooting in our community. I, along with my brothers and sisters of the Odessa Fire Rescue, and members of the Odessa Firefighters Association, am appalled at the comments made. Fire and EMS response to the incident in which candidate O’Rourke described was less than 9 minutes. Our Fire and EMS system throughout the entirety of this incident did not fail and our additional units were made readily available (if needed). The men and women of Odessa Fire Rescue acted bravely and without hesitation to prevent additional casualties. These heroes should be commended for their swift response while an active shooter was present in our community, rather than disgraced on national television for political gain.
I stand behind all actions taken by the members of Odessa Fire Rescue on that tragic day."