Saturday Feb 04, 2023

Parents say police could have ended Texas school massacre sooner


Desperate parents begged Texas police to “go in there” and were restrained by officers as a gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers was inside the school for up to an hour before he was killed.

Footage has emerged of distressing scenes outside Robb Elementary where mums and dads urged authorities to storm the primary school where a massacre was unfolding.

Several social media videos show frantic parents pleading with police to go inside, with some trying to approach the building themselves before being restrained by officers.

One grieving father, Javier Cazares, whose 9-year-old daughter was killed, told America’s ABC News police could have ended the slaughter sooner.

“There were at least 40 lawmen armed to the teeth but didn’t do a darn thing (until) it was far too late,” Mr Cazares said, supported by other parents.

He told the Washington Post: “We didn’t care about us. We wanted to storm the building. We were saying, ‘Let’s go,’ because that is how worried we were, and we wanted to get our babies out.”

Officials say gunman Salvador Ramos, 18, was inside the school in Uvalde for between 40 minutes and an hour before he was killed.

The footage also suggests up to an hour passed between the time the attack began and the moment specially trained officers breached the fourth-grade classroom and shot him dead.

In one video parents can be seen breaking through yellow police tape and yelling at officers to go into the building.

“It’s already been an hour, and they still can’t get all the kids out,” said witness Angel Ledezma during the video.

Another video posted on YouTube showed officers restraining at least one adult.

One woman can be heard saying, “Why let the children die? There’s shooting in there.”

“We got guys going in to get kids,” one officer is heard telling the crowd.
“They’re working.”

Texas officials on Friday morning (Australian time) outlined a timeline of events that led up to the killer being shot dead by police.

It was confirmed the teenager was not confronted by a school resource officer when he entered the premises.

“It was reported that a school district police officer confronted the suspect that was making entry. Not accurate,” said Victor Escalon, South Texas regional director for the Department of Public Safety.

“He walked in unobstructed initially. So, from the grandmother’s house to the bar ditch to the school, into the school, he was not confronted by anybody.

“To clear the record on that. Four minutes later, law enforcement are coming in to solve this problem.”

Mr Escalon told a media briefing the shooter fired at witnesses across the street from where his vehicle crashed before heading to the school in Uvalde.

“At 11:28 a.m. he’s sitting there at the ditch…he jumps out the passenger side of his truck,” he said.

“According to witnesses, he’s got a long arm rifle and a bag. Later we find out it’s ammunition.”

“He walks around, he sees two witnesses at the funeral home across the street from where he wrecked (his vehicle).

“He engages and fires towards them. He continues walking towards the school. He climbs a fence. Now he’s in the parking lot, shooting at the school. Multiple times.”

About ten minutes later the gunman walked into the west side of the school and shot multiple rounds.

“Four minutes later, local police departments, Uvalde Police Department, the Independent School District Police Department are inside, making entry.

“They hear gunfire, they take rounds, they move back, get cover. And during that time, they approach where the suspect is at.

Police listen as Victor Escalon, regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety South, outlines the timeline. Photo: Getty

“According to the information I have, he went in at 11:40, he walks approximate 20 feet, 30 feet, he makes a right and walks into the hallway, he makes a right, walks another 20 feet, turns left into a schoolroom – into a classroom and that has doors opened in the middle.”

Mr Escalon said police could not enter “because of the gunfire they’re receiving” and called for backup as the school was being evacuated.

“Approximately an hour later, US Border patrol tactical teams arrive.

“They make entry. Shoot and kill the suspect.”

The shooting has reignited a debate across the US over the country’s gun laws.

President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats have vowed to push for new restrictions, despite resistance from Republicans.

There were few warning signs: Ramos, a high school dropout, had no criminal record or history of mental illness.

Governor Greg Abbott said on Wednesday that Ramos had written an online message to someone minutes before the attack saying he was about to “shoot up an elementary school”.

Authorities said Ramos shot his grandmother in the face at the home they shared before fleeing and crashing his car outside Robb Elementary School sometime around 11.30am.

His grandmother, who is hospitalised in critical condition, managed to call police.

Parents were desperate to enter the school where their children were trapped. Photo: AAP

The attack drew a massive law enforcement response, including hundreds of officers, who encircled the building and broke windows in an effort to let children and staff leave.

Eventually, members of a US Border Patrol tactical unit breached the classroom and apparently killed Ramos, with one agent wounded in the crossfire, officials said.

The Uvalde Police Department announced the incident was over shortly after 1pm.

Mr Olivarez said the attack lasted between 40 and 60 minutes, though he could not say whether that time frame began when Ramos shot his grandmother or when the teenager arrived at the school.

The FBI is working on obtaining surveillance video from the school’s cameras.

At least 17 people were also injured, including multiple children.

In Washington, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate appeared far from any compromise on new gun restrictions.

Mr Biden, who has urged Congress to act, will visit Uvalde in the coming days.

The National Rifle Association’s annual meeting starts on Friday in Houston, where Republicans including Abbott, US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and former president Donald Trump were scheduled to address the gun rights group.

The NRA expressed sympathy for the victims but said the event would go on as planned.

-with AAP

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