Texas school shooter ‘entered unobstructed’

A gunman who attacked an elementary school in Texas on Tuesday was able to enter the building without incident, police say.

Texas Ranger Victor Escalon said no armed guards challenged the teenage assailant and it was unclear if the school gate was even locked.

Mr Escalon defended the police response amid growing criticism over an apparent delay in confronting the shooter.

Reports cited witnesses as saying police were reluctant to confront the killer inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

Mr Escalon told Thursday’s press conference that initial reports that the shooter had shot a guard were incorrect.

He said officers entered the school four minutes after the shooter entered at around 11:40 p.m.

“They [didn’t] enter immediately because of the shots they were receiving,” Escalon told reporters.

But an hour passed before the shooter was killed in a shootout at 12:45 p.m. only after US Border Patrol tactical teams arrived.

The assailant shot dead 19 students and two teachers and injured at least 17 other people.

Videos have emerged showing police officers incited by onlookers and desperate family members to storm the building immediately.

A father whose daughter died in the attack told the Associated Press news agency that he had considered showing up to school with bystanders out of frustration at the police response.

A mother told the Wall Street Journal that she was briefly handcuffed, accused of obstructing a police investigation, after demanding with other parents that officers storm the building. Angeli Rose Gomez said she saw a frantic dad thrown to the ground by an officer, another dad sprayed with pepper spray and a third who was then Taserized.

“The police weren’t doing anything,” said Ms Gomez, who was eventually released before saying she jumped over the school fence and ran inside to save her two children. “They [the police] stood just outside the fence. They weren’t going in there or running anywhere.”

Texas Ranger Victor Escalon

Mr Escalon – a Texas Ranger and spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety – said while officers were outside the school they were calling in reinforcements and “also evacuating students, teachers “.

“An hour later US Border Patrol tactical teams arrive, they go in, shoot and kill the suspect,” he added.

After crashing his truck into a ditch near the school, the shooter emerged and began firing an AR-type rifle at two people exiting a funeral home.

The suspect then jumped a fence and began firing “several and many bullets” at the school building, Escalon said.

As he neared the entrance, he “wasn’t confronted by anyone,” the ranger said.

According to Uvalde County Independent School District officer protocol, campuses must have staff “patrol gate entrances, parking lots and perimeters.” Teachers are asked to keep doors locked at all times.

“We will find out as much as possible why it was unlocked,” Escalon said. “Or maybe it was locked. But right now it looks like it was unlocked.”

Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro wrote to the FBI Director asking that agents investigate law enforcement’s response to the attack as it unfolded.

Officials say they don’t yet know how many rounds the teenager fired during the rampage, but a law enforcement source told CBS News the shooter was carrying more than 600 rounds.

That’s more than double what the average US soldier wears, the source said, adding that it appears the shooter was preparing for a massive shootout with police.

Investigators found no indication that the shooter had a history of mental illness or a criminal record.

He legally bought two AR-style rifles in the week before the attack, after turning 18.

President Joe Biden and the First Lady of the United States will visit Uvalde on Sunday, the White House announced.

Across the country, students staged class outings on Thursday to protest gun violence in schools.

A father told the BBC how his two terrified children hid as the massacre unfolded inside Robb Elementary.

“My son ran up to me and said he didn’t think he was going to make it — he didn’t think he was going to see me or his mom again,” Jesse Jimenez said. “My daughter was lost, she didn’t know what was going on, she didn’t know if it was a drill or if it was real.”

On Thursday, the husband of one of the two teachers killed in the attack died of a heart attack.

Joe Garcia ‘died of grief’ two days after his wife 24-year-old Irma Garcia, family members said.