The head of the Texas Department of Public Safety admitted Friday afternoon that “of course it was the wrong decision” for armed police to wait an extended period outside the classroom where the shooter Tuesday’s school shooting killed children and teachers, without storming in.
Police’s updated timeline suggests about 78 minutes elapsed from when the shooter entered the building to when officers finally entered the classroom where he was. Meanwhile, students trapped inside a classroom with the gunman repeatedly called 911, including one who pleaded, “Please send the police now” as officers waited in the hallway for over 45 minutes.
Steven McCraw, Director of the Department of Public Safety, shed tears and told a tense news conference in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 young children and two teachers were shot by an 18-year-old that ‘ “there is no excuse” for the failure of trained staff not to have intervened sooner.
At least 17 other people were injured and the victims were all in a classroom.
In a separate press conference, Texas Governor Greg Abbott showed no sympathy for the controversy facing law enforcement in Uvalde, saying local police officials had it. initially “misled” on the speed and resolve of the officers’ response to the Robb massacre. elementary on Tuesday.
“I’m livid,” Abbott said. “I expect law enforcement officials… leading the investigation… to get to the bottom of every fact with absolute certainty.
“Families whose lives have been destroyed…need accurate answers.”
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin also said he was confused about Friday’s revelations about the police response. And, without giving further details, he said his staff would make any necessary “changes” if they deemed it necessary after investigating the response.
McCraw, Abbott and McLaughlin spoke on Friday as questions and anger grew in the community over information gaps, conflicting answers given to repeated questions from parents and reporters about what happened and the silence on other topics explaining why more deaths could not have been avoided. .
The shooter, who had just turned 18, arrived heavily armed at Robb Elementary School in the small town on Tuesday and killed 21 people, after shooting and wounding his grandmother earlier.
He was eventually shot at school by a federal agent.
The attacker entered through a door that was supposed to be locked but had been kept open, and after arriving in response to frantic calls from teachers trapped inside the school with the shooter barricaded in a classroom, Armed law enforcement officers waited outside the gate for about an hour as the killing continued.
A specialized Swat team, which the officers had apparently been waiting for, eventually entered the classroom and shot the killer.
After several days of stonewalling and conflicting responses from other officials, McCraw led the press conference on Friday and quoted the head of the special police department assigned to the school, without naming the person, who on the day had led the response and held the officers back down.
“It was the wrong decision,” McCraw conceded.
“The on-scene commander at the time thought he had gone from being an active shooter [situation] to a barricaded subject,” he said, adding that the commander believed that at that time there were “no children left in danger.”
“Obviously, based on the information we [now] have, there were children in that at-risk class,” he said.
He choked up when asked about the apparent tragic mistake, when people had continued to call the 911 emergency service number throughout the break and told them there was children in need of rescue and frantic parents outside the school begging other officers there to move in. and end the slaughter.
Asked about a ’40-minute gap’ in which 911 operators knew children were alive but officers still did not enter, he added: ‘The decision has been made that it was ‘a subject barricaded, it was time to recover the keys [to the classroom] and waiting for a tactical team… that was the decision, that was the thought process.
“Looking back, of course it wasn’t the right decision, it was the wrong decision. Period. There’s no excuse for that,” he said.
McCraw recounted some of the 911 calls, including several from a woman who, in a whisper, reported “several deaths” in a classroom. The anonymous caller, from inside the classroom, said there were eight to nine students still alive at this point.
At 12:36 p.m. local time, a 911 call that lasted 21 seconds was received, from a child in the classroom, who was told to stay on the line and be quiet.
The child, McCraw recounted, said, “Please send the police now.”
Earlier, demands for answers grew when it emerged that extra state spending on school security and trained officers for mass shootings had failed to prevent the massacre.
Victor Escalon, the South Texas regional director of the state Department of Public Safety, said Thursday that armed officers arrived at Robb Elementary in about four minutes, but it was “about an hour later” that A US Border Patrol tactical team arrived at the school, burst into the classroom and killed the shooter, while the other armed police officers waited outside.
Escalon had given incomplete answers to pointed questions from reporters at a Thursday news conference about what happened, including how authorities said an armed officer tried to arrest the gunman as he approached the school, then said the opposite – that in fact there had been no one to intercept the shooter beforehand.
Telling the media he would try to get more answers, he said at one point, “Could someone have gone [into the classroom] earlier? You have to understand that it is a small town.
On Friday, McCraw also addressed the subject of previous statements regarding social media posts.
“I want to correct something that was said earlier about the investigation, that [the killer] publicly posted on Facebook that he was going to kill his grandmother and second that he was going to shoot a school.
“That didn’t happen,” McCraw said, adding that it was a message to someone else.
On March 14, the subject posted on Instagram “10 more days,” the director said, to which a respondent asked, “Are you going to shoot a school?
“Stop asking stupid questions and you’ll see,” Ramos reportedly replied.
Adriana Martinez, Ramos’ mother, said in an interview with a local CNN affiliate: “Forgive me, forgive my son.”