Nearly 20 officers stood in a hallway outside classrooms during this week’s attack on a Texas elementary school for more than 45 minutes before officers used a master key to open a doorway and confront a gunman, authorities said Friday.
The on-scene commander believed the shooter was barricaded in a classroom at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas during Tuesday’s attack and that the children were not in danger, the department director said. of Texas Public Safety, Steven McCraw, at a press conference.
“He was convinced at the time that there was no longer a threat to the children and that the subject was barricaded and that they had time to organize themselves” to enter the classroom, McCraw said. .
“Of course it wasn’t the right decision. It was the wrong decision,” he said.
McCraw said U.S. Border Patrol agents eventually used a master key to open the locked classroom door where they confronted and killed 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, who killed 19 students and two teachers.
McCraw said there was a barrage of gunfire shortly after the shooter entered the classroom where they killed him, but the gunfire was “sporadic” for a large period of time. part of the 48 minutes while officers waited outside the hallway. He said investigators don’t know if any children died during those 48 minutes, and if they did, they don’t know how many died.
Teachers, kids called 911
Throughout the attack, teachers and children repeatedly called 911 for help, including one girl who pleaded, “Please send the police now,” said McCraw.
Questions have arisen about how long it took officers to enter the school to confront the shooter.
It was 11:28 a.m. local time Tuesday when the shooter slammed his Ford pickup truck into a ditch behind the low-slung Texas school and jumped out with an AR-15-style rifle.
Twelve minutes later, authorities said, the gunman entered the halls of Robb Elementary School and found himself in a fourth-grade classroom, where he killed 19 students and two teachers in a still-unexplained spasm of violence.
But it wasn’t until 12:58 p.m. that law enforcement radio conversations announced that the suspect had been killed and the siege was over.
Police Response Questions
What happened during those 90 minutes, in a working-class neighborhood near the outskirts of the town of Uvalde, has fueled growing public anger and scrutiny of law enforcement’s response to the rampage of tuesday.
“They say they rushed,” said Javier Cazares, whose fourth grade daughter, Jacklyn Cazares, was killed in the attack, and who ran towards the school as the massacre unfolded. “We haven’t seen that.”
Friday’s update on the timeline only came after authorities declined to explain why officers were unable to arrest the gunman earlier, Victor Escalon, regional director of the Ministry of Texas Public Safety, telling reporters Thursday that he had “considered all of these issues.” consideration”, but was not ready to answer it.
Thursday’s briefing, called by Texas security officials to clarify the timeline of the attack, provided previously unknown information.
But by the end of the briefing, it had added to troubling questions surrounding the attack, including how long it took police to reach the scene and confront the shooter, and the apparent failure to lock a door to school he used to enter the building. .