As families in Uvalde, Texas, began making funeral arrangements on what should have been a joyous last day of school before summer vacation, more details surrounding the hour of terror inside Robb Elementary School emerged on Thursday, with deepening criticism of the police response.
Parents of students who were trapped inside furiously urged the police to storm the school sooner, according to witness accounts. “They were just angry,” said Derek Sotelo, 26, who heard gunfire from his tire shop nearby and followed it to the school. “We were wondering, ‘What the heck is going on? Are they going in?’ The dads were saying, ‘Give me the vest, I’ll go in there!’”
The first report of a gunman approaching the school came around 11:30am (local time) on Tuesday. By the time the 18-year-old high school dropout had been killed just after 1pm, he had shot dead 19 students and two teachers.
Questions remained about how the police and at least one armed security guard at the school had handled the gunman.
Previous reports had said that the gunman had exchanged fire with an officer outside the school, but that did not happen, according to a preliminary timeline compiled by Texas law enforcement officials and described by a person familiar with the investigation.
That police officer was not stationed at the school, but was instead in a car nearby and rushed to the scene after the first 911 calls came in.
As the officer arrived at the school, the gunman was already approaching, began firing at the school and entered, according to the timeline. Within minutes, other law enforcement officers had arrived at the school, according to the timeline. Two members of the Uvalde Police Department entered the school.
The gunman, at that point, had gone inside a pair of adjoining classrooms and was shooting, according to the timeline. The officers attempted to enter the classroom and were shot. At that point, they fell back as the shooting continued inside the classroom, according to the timeline.
Most if not all of the victims were believed to have been shot within the first minutes that the gunman arrived at the school, according to the timeline.
Javier Cazares, whose 9-year-old daughter was killed in the massacre, said that officials have been misrepresenting the response of law enforcement officials. “They said they rushed in and all that, we didn’t see that,” said Cazares, 43, who was outside the school during the attack and heard gunshots.
The gunman continued shooting through the wall and door at law enforcement who were arriving outside the classroom. It was during those minutes, law enforcement officials believe, that the gunman, identified as Salvador Ramos, shot most if not all of the children inside adjoining classrooms.
New York Times News Service