Texas school shooting: Police are “wrong” to wait for a gunman to attack while students call for help

UVALDE, Texas, May 27 (Reuters) – Frantic children called 911 at least half a dozen times from Texas classrooms where a massacre was taking place, calling for police to intervene while about 20 officers waited in the hallway nearly an hour before entering and killing the gunman, authorities said Friday.

At least two children made several emergency calls from a couple of adjoining classrooms after 18-year-old Salvador Ramos entered an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle on Tuesday, according to Colonel Steven McCraw, director of the Department of Homeland Security. Texas. Public Security.

Ramos, who had driven to Robb Elementary School from his home after shooting and injuring his grandmother there, killed 19 children and two teachers in the deadliest shooting of the American school in almost one decade.

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“She’s in room 112,” a girl whispered on the phone at 12:03 p.m., more than 45 minutes before a U.S. Border Patrol-led tactical team finally entered and ended the siege.

The site commander, the head of the school district police department in Uvalde, Texas, believed at the time that Ramos was barricaded inside and that the children were no longer in immediate danger, giving police time to prepare. , said McCraw.

“From the benefit of the retrospective where I’m sitting now, of course, it wasn’t the right decision,” McCraw said. “It was a wrong decision, period.”

The revelation of the delay by local law enforcement in pursuing the teenager armed with a semi-automatic rifle came when the country’s main gun advocacy group, the National Rifle Association, opened its annual convention. 275 miles away in Houston.

Gov. Gregg Abbott, a Republican and staunch gun advocate who addressed the meeting in a pre-recorded video, seized on apparent police errors in Uvalde and said at a subsequent news conference that he had been deceived. and “livid about what happened.”

Abbott denied that recently enacted Texas gun laws, including a controversial measure that removed license requirements for carrying a concealed weapon, had “no relevance” to Tuesday’s bloodshed. He suggested that state lawmakers focus renewed attention on addressing mental illness.


Although the shooting reopened the intractable and lengthy national debate over easy access to military-style weapons in the United States, the latest chronology of the attack on the Uvalde school has caused public dismay, even among the same officials who reported it.

McGraw, whose voice was stifled by emotion at times, said, “We are here to denounce the facts, not to defend what was done or the actions taken.”

Some of the mostly 9- and 10-year-old students trapped with the gunman survived the massacre, including at least two who called 911, McCraw said. He did not offer a specific count.

There were at least eight calls from classrooms to 911 between 12:03 p.m., half an hour after Ramos first entered the building, and 12:50 p.m., when Border Patrol officers and police they burst in and shot Ramos.

It was unclear if officers at the scene were aware of the calls while they were waiting, McCraw said.

Children run to a safe place during a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School where a gunman killed nineteen children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas, USA on May 24, 2022. Photograph taken on May 24, 2022 2022. Pete Luna / Uvalde Leader-News / Handout via REUTERS

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A girl whom McCraw did not identify called at 12:16 p.m. and told police there were still “eight to nine” students alive, the colonel said. Three shots were heard during a call at 12:21 p.m.

The girl who made the first call begged the operator to “please send the police now” at 12:43 and again four minutes later.

Officers entered three minutes after the last call, according to McCraw, when the tactical team used a janitor’s key to open the closed classroom door.

Several officers had a first exchange of gunfire with Ramos shortly after he entered the school at 11:33 a.m., when two officers were shot by bullets and took cover. There were up to 19 officers in the hallway at 12:03 p.m., when the first 911 call was received from the classroom, McCraw said.

Videos released on Thursday showed distressed parents outside the school urging police to storm the building during the attack, and some had to be detained by police.

Standard law enforcement protocols call for police to deal with an active school shooter without delay, rather than waiting for a backup or more firepower, a point McCraw acknowledged Friday.

Medical experts also stress the importance of evacuating critically injured injured patients to a trauma center in 60 minutes – what emergency doctors call the “golden hour” – to save lives.

McCraw described other times when Ramos may have been frustrated. A school official, responding to calls about a gunman who crashed into a car at the funeral home across the street, passed right in front of Ramos as he crouched beside a vehicle on the property. of the school. Police said Ramos shot two people outside before climbing a fence on the school grounds.

The door that gave Ramos access to the building had been left open by a teacher, McCraw said, in violation of school district safety policies.


The attack, which came 10 days after a shooting in Buffalo, New York that left 10 dead, has intensified the long-running national debate over gun laws.

At the NRA meeting, prominent Republicans, including former President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, reiterated arguments that stricter gun laws would do little or nothing to alleviate the rise. frequency of mass shootings in the United States. Read more

About 500 protesters with crosses, signs and photos of the victims of the Uvalde shooting gathered outside the convention, shouting, “NRA go.”

President Joe Biden, a Democrat who has urged Congress to pass new gun restrictions, will visit the community of 16,000 people about 80 miles (130 km) west of San Antonio on Sunday. Read more

Investigators are still searching for the motive for the attack. Ramos, who dropped out of high school, had no criminal record or a history of mental illness.

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Report by Gabriella Borter and Brad Brooks in Uvalde, Texas; additional reports by Maria Caspani in New York, Brendan O’Brien in Chicago, and Doina Chiacu in Washington; written by Joseph Ax; edited by Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman

Our standards: Thomson Reuters’ principles of trust.

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