Residents in Uvalde, Texas say they do not know what to line up with the police’s astonishing admission Friday that they waited more than an hour outside the locked door of two classrooms at Robb Elementary School while children were inside the shooter, who shot 19 of their classmates and two teachers.
“In hindsight, of course, it was not the right decision,” Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told reporters during a press conference outside school.
He said the on-site incident leader on Tuesday, who was a member of the school district’s own police force, determined that when three Uvalde police officers entered the school at 11:35 a.m., the situation was no longer an active exchange of fire, but a barricaded shooting scenario and “no more children were at risk “.
“Obviously, based on the information we have, there were children in that class who were at risk, and it was actually still an active shooting situation,” McCraw said.
At 12.03, there were 19 officers from four different police departments in the hallway outside the adjoining classrooms, and yet the officers did not enter the door until 47 minutes later – and only after receiving keys from a school peddler.
No surprise for parents who watched the footage unfold
The detailed new timeline confirmed what many parents and loved ones who hurried to school on Tuesday and desperately tried to pressure officers to save their children suspected.
A father who had driven to school to check on his niece said officers at the scene urged passersby from nearby houses to enter.
“” Go into the house! Go into the house! ‘ That was what they shouted. “There’s an armed shooter, high-powered rifle,” he said as he stopped after snow cones at the Extreme Southern Sno Pitt Stop with his two children.
“They already knew everything. Like, okay, so why did not you all come?”
The father did not want to be identified in the police interrogations, but said he has relatives in law enforcement and believes that rushing to try to save lives in such a situation, even at the expense of his, is part of the oath, which the officers commit. when taking work.
“What’s the reason for being careful? That’s mostly what you swear [with] children.”
Selena Tristan, 46, did not watch the press conference because she was trying to keep the media coverage away from her son, who went to a 2nd grade class at the opposite end of Robb Elementary during filming, but she says many parents are sad.
“I know a lot of people are sad because they do not understand what took so long. “
‘As long as someone shoots, you go to the gun’
Although McCraw said on Friday that officers were following the blocked firing protocol and believed it was time to pick up the keys to the classroom and wait for a tactical team of equipment to come through the door, he also admitted that they should have broken this protocol.
“Once you have an active shooter, you do not have to wait tactically,” he said. “As long as there are kids, and as long as someone shoots, you go to the gun, you find him, you neutralize him. Period.”
While McCraw told reporters that the hundreds of bullets fired by 18-year-old Salvador Ramos in the two classrooms were fired during the first four minutes he was inside the school, and that any shooting thereafter was sporadic, and at the door was there are several 911 calls. made by two children inside the 47 minutes that 19 officers were waiting outside.
McCraw said police are still trying to determine if anyone died during that time.
“It touches me,” Linda Sosa said.
The 74-year-old grandmother said that she had lived in Uvalde all her life and had not had good experiences with the police. She has a son in jail serving time for possession of drugs, which she says were handled by police officers when he was arrested.
“My son did wrong, I can accept that, but the way they treated him, they should have treated this guy who killed so much. [many] small children who did not know what was going on. “
Sosa grew up living next to Celia Gonzalez, Ramos’ grandmother – who was the first to be shot when he started his frenzy. She described Gonzalez, who survived the shooting, as a friendly person and Ramos as “very calm”.
“I would not think he would do such a thing,” Sosa said.
Unwilling to criticize
Gloria Garcia is more willing to give the officers the benefit of the doubt.
“I do not know what the truth is, “said the 88-year-old who lives on Geraldine Street, a short walk from Robb Elementary.” I hate to say anything bad about the police, but you know it could be true that they were slow to respond. “
She was home on the day of the shooting, just down the street, from where Ramos crashed his car into a ditch before going to school a few feet away. She heard three loud bangs and thought someone had hit the wall of her house.
»A few minutes later I heard boom, boom, boom, boom. “I thought they killed birds because there are so many trees there.”
It was only when she got a call from her daughter, who is a therapist at a local college, that she realized it was more serious.
“She says, ‘Mom, if you’re out, come in. There’s something terrible going on with Robb,” she said. “And then I looked out the window and saw all the commotion. “
The officer passed the shooter moments before entering
One of the details from Friday’s press conference was that an officer from the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District affiliated with Robb Elementary encountered the shooter while he was still in the school parking lot. The officer pursued what he thought was the shooter near the back door of the school, and could not see Ramos hiding behind a car.
It is common for school districts in Texas to have their own police officers, and the Uvalde District has six. Officials initially said the school officer was on the scene and engaged the shooter. But they later clarified that this was not the case and that he first arrived after the first 911 call and then helped evacuate children to other classrooms along with other officers.
“They have an official officer in each [school]but I mean, I’ve been here a few times for other things, such as ceremonies and they are not always there, ”said Sandra Medina, whose daughter Jazmine went to a 4th grade a few rooms away. the shooter shot.
Some parents, who saw the police holding back and then later giving a contradictory account of their intervention, had openly criticized the reaction even before Friday’s admission of several errors.
“I even asked the police, ‘Do you all need help?'” Said Javier Cazares, desperately trying to reach his nine-year-old daughter, Jacklyn, who was killed inside the school by her cousin. “We were ready to hurry … we were so angry.”
Cazares told CBC’s Susan Ormiston earlier this week that he could not bear to think that she and her classmates were alone with the shooter for so long before help arrived.
“God knows how long my little girl and the others have been like this,” he said, his voice shaking and his breathing falling from realization.
He said he wanted more parents to get angry and hold officials and police accountable.
“Their job was to step in and save lives, not wait,” he said Thursday.
But on Friday, McCraw had little consolation to offer Cazares and others when reporters asked him what he wanted to tell them.
“I have nothing to say to the parents other than what happened,” he said. “We are not here to defend what happened; we are here to report the facts … If I thought it would help, I would apologize.”