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NEWS18 EXPLAINS: 'Go In There!', As Parents Recall Police 'Inaction' in Texas Shooting, What Conspired

By: News Desk

News18.com

Last Updated: May 27, 2022, 07:53 IST

New Delhi

A child gets on a school bus as law enforcement personnel guard the scene of a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas (Image: Reuters)

A child gets on a school bus as law enforcement personnel guard the scene of a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas (Image: Reuters)

Details have now emerged that 18-year-old Salvador Ramos was locked inside the elementary school room for at least an hour while cops waited outside for a special tactical unit to arrive

In the nation horrified by the Texas school massacre, the questions don’t seem to end. After raging debate over gun control in the United States of America, now, another set of questions has gripped the public – was police action in the situation not ready or responsive enough? Could lives had been saved had cops stormed in to the place earlier than it had?

Details have now emerged that 18-year-old Salvador Ramos was locked inside the elementary school room for at least an hour while cops waited outside for a special tactical unit to arrive and desperate parents pleaded with them to ‘go in’. What exactly happened and what are witnesses saying now? News18 explains:

The Timeline

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

Twelve minutes after that, authorities say, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos was in the hallways of Robb Elementary School. Soon he entered a fourth-grade classroom. And there, he killed 19 schoolchildren and two teachers in a still-unexplained spasm of violence.

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

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

“They say they rushed in,” said Javier Cazares, whose fourth-grade daughter, Jacklyn Cazares, was killed in the attack, and who raced to the school as the massacre unfolded. “We didn’t see that.”

What Parents Say

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

“Go in there! Go in there!” women shouted at the officers soon after the attack began, said Juan Carranza, 24, who watched the scene from outside a house across the street.

Carranza said the officers should have entered the school sooner: “There were more of them. There was just one of him.”

Cazares said that 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 the arrival of officers with shields, equipped to confront the gunman, he said.

As more parents flocked to the school, he and others pressed 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 need to go in there. You all need to do your jobs.’ Their response was, ‘We can’t do our jobs because you guys are interfering,’” Cazares said.

In one jolty, nearly seven minute clip posted on YouTube, parents living a nightmare — a school shooting under way with their kids inside — are seen screaming expletives at police trying to keep them away from Robb Elementary School.

“It’s my daughter!” one woman bellows amid chaotic scenes of crying and shoving.

Angeli Rose Gomez, whose children were inside, told The Wall Street Journal she was handcuffed by federal marshals after she and others pushed police to intervene.

In another shorter video, parents at what is apparently the rear of the building complain angrily that police are doing nothing as the country’s worst school shooting in a decade is unfolding.

One woman, frantic about her son, yells to police: “If they’ve got a shot, shoot him or something. Go on.”

Jacinto Cazares, whose daughter Jacklyn died on Tuesday, said he raced to the school when he heard about the shooting.

“There was at least 40 lawmen armed to the teeth but didn’t do a darn thing (until) it was far too late,” Cazares told ABC News Wednesday.

“The situation could’ve been over quick if they had better tactical training.”

Daniel Myers and his wife Matilda — both local pastors — told AFP they saw parents at the scene growing frantic as police seemed to wait on reinforcements before entering the school.

“Parents were desperate,” said Daniel Myers, 72. “One family member, he says: ‘I was in the military, just give me a gun, I’ll go in. I’m not going to hesitate. I’ll go in.'”

Police Largely Ignores Questions

On Thursday, authorities largely ignored questions about why officers had not been able to stop the shooter sooner, with Victor Escalon, regional director for the Texas Department of Public Safety, telling reporters he had “taken all those questions into consideration” and would offer updates later.

The media briefing, called by Texas safety officials to clarify the timeline of the attack, provided bits of previously unknown information. But by the time it ended, it had added to the troubling questions surrounding the attack, including about the time it took police to reach the scene and confront the gunman, and the apparent failure to lock a school door he entered.

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

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

After crashing his truck, Ramos fired on two people coming out of a nearby funeral home, Escalon said. He then entered the school ”unobstructed” through an apparently unlocked door at about 11:40 a.m.

But the first police officers did not arrive on the scene until 12 minutes after the crash and did not enter the school to pursue the shooter until four minutes after that. Inside, they were driven back by gunfire from Ramos and took cover, Escalon said.

The crisis came to an end after a group of Border Patrol tactical officers entered the school roughly an hour later, at 12:45 p.m., said Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson Travis Considine. They engaged in a shootout with the gunman, who was holed up in the fourth-grade classroom. Moments before 1 p.m., he was dead.

Escalon said that during that time, the officers called for backup, negotiators and tactical teams, while evacuating students and teachers.

Michael Dorn, executive director of Safe Havens International, which works to make schools safer, cautioned that it’s hard to get a clear understanding of the facts soon after a shooting.

“The information we have a couple of weeks after an event is usually quite different than what we get in the first day or two. And even that is usually quite inaccurate,” Dorn said. For catastrophic incidents “you’re usually eight to 12 months out before you really have a decent picture.”

Many other details of the case and the response remained murky. The motive for the massacre — the nation’s deadliest school shooting since Newtown, Connecticut, almost a decade ago — remained under investigation, with authorities saying Ramos had no known criminal or mental health history.

Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz did not give a timeline but said repeatedly that the tactical officers from his agency who arrived at the school did not hesitate. He said they moved rapidly to enter the building, lining up in a “stack” behind an agent holding up a shield.

“What we wanted to make sure is to act quickly, act swiftly, and that’s exactly what those agents did,” Ortiz told Fox News.

But a law enforcement official said that once in the building, the agents had trouble breaching the classroom door and had to get a staff member to open the room with a key. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly about the investigation.

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

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 case and spoke of condition of anonymity.

Investigators have concluded that school officer was not positioned between the school and Ramos, leaving him unable to confront the shooter before he entered the building, the law enforcement official said.

With inputs from the Associated Press, AFP

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first published:May 27, 2022, 07:48 IST
last updated:May 27, 2022, 07:53 IST