In a tense and at times emotional news conference outside of Robb Elementary School, a top Texas state police official acknowledged that the decision by local police officers on the scene of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, not to breach the classroom for more than an hour as the rampage was taking place was “the wrong decision.”
“Obviously, based on the information we have, there were children in that classroom that were still at risk,” said Steven C. McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety. “From the benefit of hindsight where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision. Period.”
Nineteen children and two teachers were killed when an 18-year-old gunman entered the school and fired more than 100 rounds according to police. Another 17 people were injured. Texas investigators said victims were found in four classrooms.
“He walked in unobstructed initially,” Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Regional Director Victor Escalon said. “So from the grandmother’s house, to the (ditch), to the school, into the school, he was not confronted by anybody.”
Mr Escalon said Ramos crashed his vehicle nearby at 11:28, with the first emergency call coming two minutes later as witnesses reported a man carrying a gun. Ramos then shot at members of the public, roamed the school premises, and entered freely through an unlocked door at 11:40.
Police arrived on site four minutes later, Mr Escalon said. But it is unclear how close they got to the gunman or whether they attempted to enter the classroom where the shooting took place.
Police initially said the officers were “inside making entry” and took cover after coming under heavy fire. This was revised on Thursday by Mr Escalon. “They [didn’t] make entry immediately because of the gunfire they were receiving,” he said.
At 12:45, the gunman was shot dead by a team led by an elite Border Patrol tactical unit. Mr Escalon played down previous statements by police that there had been ongoing exchanges of gunfire during the previous hour. “The majority of the gunfire was in the beginning,” he told reporters.
The massacre marked the deadliest US school shooting in nearly a decade and was at least the 30th school shooting at a K-12 school in 2022. And it has thrown the nation — where active shooter attacks jumped more than 50% last year — yet again into a fury of anger and grief amid renewed calls for gun laws reform.
Education Week has been tracking school shootings since 2018. According to its database, 119 such incidents have taken place since then. The Robb Elementary School tragedy marks the 27th school shooting in the US this year.
Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia, both veteran teachers, co-taught a 4th grade class at their Uvalde, Texas, elementary school. They died trying to shield their students, families say.