Police face questions over response to Uvalde school shooting

Law enforcement authorities faced questions and criticism on Thursday over how long it took before they stormed a classroom at a Texas elementary school and put an end to a gunman’s rampage that killed 19 children and two teachers.

Investigators also haven’t been able to say for sure whether an armed school district security guard outside Robb Elementary in the town of Uvalde exchanged gunfire with the attacker, Salvador Ramos. , 18 years old.

The motive for the massacre – the country’s deadliest school shooting since Newtown, Connecticut a decade ago – remains under investigation, with authorities saying the shooter had no criminal history or known mental health.

During the siege, frustrated onlookers urged police to charge into the school, witnesses said.

” Go for it ! Enter it! women yelled at officers shortly after the attack began, said Juan Carranza, 24, who observed the scene from outside a house across the street.

A police vehicle is seen on Tuesday parked near a truck believed to belong to the shooter in the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Officials said there was uncertainty about the timing of the shooting, as well as questions about the police response. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

Uncertain attack timeline

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said Wednesday that 40 minutes to an hour passed between the time the shooter opened fire on the school security guard and the time the tactical team shot him.

“The bottom line is that law enforcement was there,” McCraw said. “They engaged immediately. They contained him in the classroom.”

But a department spokesperson said Thursday authorities were still working to clarify the timeline of the attack, unsure whether that 40-minute to one-hour period began when the shooter arrived at school or earlier when he shot his grandmother at home.

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“At this time, we don’t have an accurate or reliable timeline to provide that the shooter was in school during this time,” Lt. Christopher Olivarez told CNN.

Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz didn’t give a timeline but repeatedly said his agency’s tactical officers who arrived at the school didn’t hesitate. He said they moved quickly to enter the building, lining up in a “stack” behind a shield-wielding officer.

“What we wanted to make sure was to act fast, to act fast, and that’s exactly what these officers did,” Ortiz told Fox News.

But a law enforcement official said once inside the building, Border Patrol agents had difficulty opening the classroom door and had to ask a staff member to open it. the room with a key. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.

‘More could have been done,’ says grieving parent

Olivarez said investigators are trying to establish whether the classroom was, in fact, locked or barricaded in some way.

Javier Cazares, whose fourth grade daughter, Jacklyn Cazares, was killed in the attack, said he rushed to school when he heard about the shooting, arriving as police were always gathered outside.

Upset that the police wouldn’t move in, he raised the idea of ​​charging into the school with several other passers-by.

“Let’s go fast because the cops aren’t doing anything like they’re supposed to,” he said. “More could have been done.”

“They weren’t prepared,” added Cazares.

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On Tuesday, an 18-year-old gunman barricaded himself in an elementary school classroom in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two teachers. This, nearly 10 years after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In the years between the shootings, no meaningful national gun control legislation was passed in the United States. Veronique De La Rosa’s son, Noah, was Sandy Hook’s youngest victim. She tells Jayme Poisson that she had hoped what happened at her son’s school would be a turning point, but now “it has become painfully clear that thoughts and prayers are not the solution to each of these tragedies”.

Carranza had watched from across the street as the suspect crashed his truck into a ditch outside the school, grabbed his AR-15 type semi-automatic rifle and shot two people outside. a funeral home, who escaped unharmed.

Olivarez told CNN that the school security guard outside was armed and initial reports indicated that he and Ramos exchanged gunfire, “but at this time we are trying to corroborate this information. “.

Carranza said the officers should have entered the school earlier.

“There were more,” he said. “There was only one.”

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Grandma spoke with neighbor after shooting

Before attacking the school, Ramos shot and injured his grandmother in the house they shared.

Neighbor Gilbert Gallegos, 82, who lives across the street and has known the family for decades, said he was wading through his yard when he heard the gunshots.

Gallegos said he saw a car drive away from the house: “It sped, I mean fast, spraying gravel in the air.”

The grandmother soon came out of the house, covered in blood.

“She says, ‘Berto, that’s what he did. He shot me,'” he recalls.

Gallegos said he did not hear any arguments before or after the gunshots and was unaware of any history of bullying or abuse within the home.