Onlookers urged police to charge into a Texas school

It was 11:28 a.m. when the Ford pickup truck slammed into a ditch behind the low-slung Texas schoolhouse and the driver jumped out with an AR-15-style rifle.

Twelve minutes later, authorities said, Salvador Ramos, 18, was in the halls of Robb Elementary School. Soon he entered a fourth grade class. And there he killed 19 schoolchildren and two teachers in a still unexplained bout of violence.

At 12:58 p.m., law enforcement radio conversations said Ramos had been killed and the siege was over.

What happened in those 90 minutes, in a working-class neighborhood near the outskirts of the small town of Uvalde, has fueled growing public anger and scrutiny over the response of law enforcement. at Tuesday’s rampage.

“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. unfolded. “We haven’t seen that.”

Authorities largely ignored questions on Thursday about why officers had been unable to arrest the shooter earlier, Victor Escalon, regional director for the Texas Department of Public Safety, telling reporters that he had “considered all of these matters” and would offer updates. later.

The press conference, called by Texas security officials to clarify the timeline of the attack, provided previously unknown information. But by the time it ended, 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 inability to lock down a school door he entered.

After two days of providing often conflicting information, investigators said a school district police officer was not inside the school when Ramos arrived and, contrary to their previous reports, the officer didn’t confront Ramos outside the building.

Instead, they sketched out a remarkable timeline for unexplained law enforcement delays.

After crashing his truck, Ramos shot two people exiting a nearby funeral home, Escalon said. He then entered the school “unobstructed” through an apparently unlocked door around 11:40 a.m.

But the first police did not arrive on the scene until 12 minutes after the accident and did not enter the school to pursue the shooter until four minutes later. Inside, they were pushed back by shots from Ramos and took cover, Escalon said.

The crisis ended after a group of Border Patrol tactical officers entered the school about an hour later at 12:45 p.m., the Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson said. Travis Considine. They engaged in a shootout with the shooter, who was locked in the fourth grade classroom. Moments before 1 p.m., he was dead.

Escalon said during this time officers called in reinforcements, negotiators and tactical teams, while evacuating students and teachers.

Ken Trump, president of consulting firm National School Safety and Security Services, said the length of the delay raises questions.

“Based on best practice, it’s very difficult to understand why there were delays, especially when you go into reports of 40 minutes and more to neutralize this shooter,” he said.

Many other details of the case and the response remained unclear. The motive for the massacre – the deadliest school shooting in the country since Newtown, Connecticut, nearly a decade ago – remains under investigation, with authorities saying Ramos had no criminal history or of known mental health.

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

” Go for it ! Go for 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.

Carranza said the officers should have entered the school earlier: “There were more of them. There was only one of him.

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, officers had difficulty opening the door to the classroom and had to ask a member of staff to open the room with a key. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Lt. Christopher Olivarez told CNN that investigators are trying to establish whether the classroom was, in fact, locked or barricaded in some way.

Cazares said when he arrived he saw two officers outside the school and about five others escorting students out of the building. But 15 or 20 minutes passed before officers arrived with shields, equipped to confront the shooter, he said.

As more parents flocked to the school, he and others urged police to act, Cazares said. He heard about four gunshots before he and the others were ordered back to a parking lot.

“A lot of us were arguing with the police, ‘You all have to go. You all have to do your job. Their response was, “We can’t do our job because you’re interfering,” Cazares said.

As for the armed school officer, he was driving nearby but was not on campus when Ramos crashed his truck, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the incident. case and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The tragedy was the latest in a seemingly endless wave of mass shootings across the United States in recent years. Just 10 days earlier, 10 black people were shot dead in a racist attack in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

The attack was the deadliest school shooting in the United States since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.

Amid calls for tougher gun restrictions, the Republican governor has repeatedly spoken out about mental health issues among Texas youth and argued that tougher gun laws in Chicago, New York and California are ineffective.

Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who is running against Abbott for governor, cut short Wednesday’s press conference, calling the tragedy “predictable.” Pointing his finger at Abbott, he said: “It’s up to you until you choose to do something different. It will continue to happen. O’Rourke was escorted away as some in the room shouted at him.

Texas has some of the most gun-friendly laws in the country and has been the scene of some of the deadliest shootings in the United States over the past five years.

“I just don’t know how people can sell this type of weapon to an 18-year-old child,” said Siria Arizmendi, victim Eliahna Garcia’s aunt, angrily through tears. “What is he going to use it for if not for this purpose?”

President Joe Biden said Wednesday that “the Second Amendment is not absolute” as he called for new gun limitations in the wake of the massacre.

But the prospects for reforming national gun regulations looked bleak. Repeated attempts over the years to expand background checks and enact other restrictions have been met with Republican opposition in Congress.

The shooting took place days before the start of the National Rifle Association’s annual convention in Houston, with the governor of Texas and the state’s two Republican U.S. senators scheduled to speak.

Dillon Silva, whose nephew was in a classroom, said students were watching the Disney movie “Moana” when they heard several loud noises and a bullet shattered a window. Moments later, their teacher saw the assailant pass by.

“Oh, my God, he has a gun! the professor shouted twice, according to Silva. “The teacher didn’t even have time to lock the door,” he said.

The tight-knit community, built around a shaded central plaza, includes many families who have lived there for generations.

Lorena Auguste was a substitute teacher at Uvalde High School when she heard about the shooting and began frantically texting her niece, a 4th grader at Robb Elementary. Eventually, she found out that the girl was fine.

But that night, her niece had a question.

“Why did they do this to us?” asked the girl. “We are good kids. We haven’t done anything wrong.

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