May 26, 2022 at 06:25AM (TB103) Parents begged police for upward of 40 minutes to stop Texas school shooter: Report
Police stood by for upward of 40 minutes after a gunman stormed into an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday and killed 19 children and two teachers in a classroom, according to a new report.
Investigators are piecing together what happened over the course of the massacre, which ended with a Border Patrol team rushing in and killing the 18-year-old shooter. Witnesses cited by the Associated Press recalled shouting at police to enter the building to save the people inside. One even proposed having bystanders do the job that officers apparently refused to do as they stood outside.
“Let’s just rush in because the cops aren’t doing anything like they are supposed to,” said Javier Cazares. “More could have been done.” Cazares lost his fourth grade daughter, Jacklyn, in the attack. “They were unprepared,” he said.
The first report of an armed man approaching Robb Elementary School came around 11:30 a.m., and the gunman was killed roughly 90 minutes later, just after 1 p.m., state officials said, according to the New York Times.
Salvador Ramos has been identified by officials as the shooter who entered the school with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle. After being seen crashing his truck into a ditch outside the school and shooting at people outside a nearby funeral home, who were not injured, officials say he “encountered” a school district security officer, but it’s not clear whether they exchanged gunfire. Ramos entered the school and shot and wounded two Uvalde police officers arriving outside, according to Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Travis Considine.
Between 40 minutes and an hour passed between Ramos shooting at the school security officer and him being shot and killed by a tactical Border Patrol unit, said Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw, although the exact timing remains unclear.
Ramos barricaded himself in one classroom, where officials said he shot and killed the 19 children and two teachers. A law enforcement official told the Associated Press that the Border Patrol agents had difficulty breaching the door to the classroom and were only able to enter when a staff member opened the door with a key.
The killer “barricaded himself by locking the door and just started shooting children and teachers that were inside that classroom,” Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety said in a television appearance, according to NBC. “It just shows you the complete evil of the shooter.”
GOP Rep. Tony Gonzales, whose district includes Uvalde, told CNN what he heard in a briefing about the time it took for law enforcement to finally close in. “All of it, I understand, lasted about an hour, but this is where there’s kind of a 30-minute lull. They feel as if they’ve got him barricaded in. The rest of the students in the school are now leaving,” he said.
Raul Ortiz, chief of the Border Patrol, told CNN that more than a dozen on-duty and off-duty agents showed up to stop the shooter. “They didn’t hesitate. They came up with a plan. They entered that classroom, and they took care of the situation as quickly as they possibly could,” he said. A member of the elite Border Patrol Tactical Unit, or BORTAC, has been credited with killing the shooter. The agent sustained a wound to the head after being grazed by a bullet and was shot in the leg but has been discharged from the hospital, U.S. Customs and Border Protection sources told the Washington Examiner’s Anna Giaritelli.
Uvalde is a town of roughly 16,000 people and is situated between San Antonio and Del Rio. The town is just dozens of miles away from the U.S.-Mexico border and has a Border Patrol station.
Officials have yet to share a motive in the roughly 36 hours since the attack, which left 17 others injured. Ramos also shot and wounded his grandmother before the school attack. The identities of the victims have begun to emerge, including fourth-grade teachers Irma Garcia and Eva Mireles.
The investigation into the shooting is being led by DPS Texas Rangers and the Uvalde Police Department and supported by DPS Highway Patrol and Criminal Investigation, DPS Aircraft and Intelligence, and DPS Crime and Victim Support, according to Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX). He said the Texas Division of Emergency Management, FBI, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Border Patrol, San Antonio Police Department, San Antonio Fire Department, and other local law officials are “also providing resources in support of the investigation.”
Joe Biden, who said he will travel to Texas in the coming days to visit with the families of the victims, urged the country on Tuesday to “stand up to the gun lobby.” The attack is the second deadliest school shooting on record in the United States.
via Washington Examiner
May 26, 2022 at 06:19AM via AP NEWS Onlookers urged police to charge into Texas school
UVALDE, Texas (AP) — Frustrated onlookers urged police officers to charge into the Texas elementary school where a gunman’s rampage killed 19 children and two teachers, witnesses said Wednesday, as investigators worked to track the massacre that lasted upwards of 40 minutes and ended when the 18-year-old shooter was killed by a Border Patrol team.
“Go in there! Go in there!” nearby women shouted at the officers soon after the attack began, said Juan Carranza, 24, who saw the scene from outside his house, across the street from Robb Elementary School in the close-knit town of Uvalde. Carranza said the officers did not go in.
Javier Cazares, whose fourth grade daughter, Jacklyn Cazares, was killed in the attack, said he raced to the school when he heard about the shooting, arriving while police were still gathered outside the building.
Upset that police were not moving in, he raised the idea of charging into the school with several other bystanders.
“Let’s just rush in because the cops aren’t doing anything like they are supposed to,” he said. “More could have been done.”
“They were unprepared,” he added.
Minutes earlier, Carranza had watched as Salvador Ramos crashed his truck into a ditch outside the school, grabbed his AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle and shot at two people outside a nearby funeral home who ran away uninjured.
Officials say he “encountered” a school district security officer outside the school, though there were conflicting reports from authorities on whether the men exchanged gunfire. After running inside, he fired on two arriving Uvalde police officers who were outside the building, said Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson Travis Considine. The police officers were injured.
After entering the school, Ramos charged into one classroom and began to kill.
He “barricaded himself by locking the door and just started shooting children and teachers that were inside that classroom,” Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Department of Public Safety told CNN. “It just shows you the complete evil of the shooter.”
All those killed were in the same classroom, he said.
Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told reporters that 40 minutes to an hour elapsed from when Ramos opened fire on the school security officer to when the tactical team shot him, though a department spokesman said later that they could not give a solid estimate of how long the gunman was in the school or when he was killed.
“The bottom line is law enforcement was there,” McCraw said. “They did engage immediately. They did contain (Ramos) in the classroom.”
Meanwhile, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said the Border Patrol 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 the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation.
Carranza said the officers should have entered the school sooner.
“There were more of them. There was just one of him,” he said.
Uvalde is a largely Latino town of some 16,000 people about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the Mexican border. Robb Elementary, which has nearly 600 students in second, third and fourth grades, is a single-story brick structure in a mostly residential neighborhood of modest homes.
Before attacking the school, Ramos shot and wounded his grandmother at the home they shared, authorities said.
Neighbor Gilbert Gallegos, 82, who lives across the street and has known the family for decades, said he was puttering in his yard when he heard the shots.
Ramos ran out the front door and across the small yard to the truck parked in front of the house. He seemed panicked, Gallegos said, and had trouble getting the truck out of park.
Then he raced away: “He spun out, I mean fast,” spraying gravel in the air.
His grandmother emerged covered in blood: “She says, ‘Berto, this is what he did. He shot me.’” She was hospitalized.
Gallegos, whose wife called 911, said he had heard no arguments before or after the shots, and knew of no history of bullying or abuse of Ramos, who he rarely saw.
Investigators also shed no light on Ramos’ motive for the attack, which also left at least 17 people wounded. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Ramos, a resident of the small town about 85 miles (135 kilometers) west of San Antonio, had no known criminal or mental health history.
“We don’t see a motive or catalyst right now,” said McCraw of the Department of Public Safety.
Ramos legally bought the rifle and a second one like it last week, just after his birthday, authorities said.
About a half-hour before the mass shooting, Ramos sent the first of three online messages warning about his plans, Abbott said.
Ramos wrote that he was going to shoot his grandmother, then that he had shot the woman. In the last note, sent about 15 minutes before he reached Robb Elementary, he said he was going to shoot up an elementary school, according to Abbott. Investigators said Ramos did not specify which school.
Ramos sent the private, one-to-one text messages via Facebook, said company spokesman Andy Stone. It was not clear who received the messages.
Grief engulfed Uvalde as the details emerged.
The dead included Eliahna Garcia, an outgoing 10-year-old who loved to sing, dance and play basketball; a fellow fourth-grader, Xavier Javier Lopez, who had been eagerly awaiting a summer of swimming; and a teacher, Eva Mireles, whose husband is an officer with the school district’s police department.
“You can just tell by their angelic smiles that they were loved,” Uvalde Schools Superintendent Hal Harrell said, fighting back tears as he recalled the children and teachers killed.
The tragedy was the latest in a seemingly unending wave of mass shootings across the U.S. in recent years. Just 10 days earlier, 10 Black people were shot to death in a racist attack at a Buffalo, New York, supermarket.
The attack was the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.
Amid calls for tighter restrictions on firearms, the Republican governor repeatedly talked about mental health struggles among Texas young people and argued that tougher gun laws in Chicago, New York and California are ineffective.
Democrat Beto O’Rourke, who is running against Abbott for governor, interrupted Wednesday’s news conference, calling the tragedy “predictable.” Pointing his finger at Abbott, he said: “This is on you until you choose to do something different. This will continue to happen.” O’Rourke was escorted out as some in the room yelled at him. Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin yelled that O’Rourke was a “sick son of a bitch.”
Texas has some of the most gun-friendly laws in the nation and has been the site of some of the deadliest shootings in the U.S. over the past five years.
“I just don’t know how people can sell that type of a gun to a kid 18 years old,” Siria Arizmendi, the aunt of victim Eliahna Garcia, said angrily through tears. “What is he going to use it for but for that purpose?”
President Joe Biden said Wednesday that “the Second Amendment is not absolute” as he called for new limitations on guns in the wake of the massacre.
But the prospects for reform of the nation’s gun regulations appeared dim. Repeated attempts over the years to expand background checks and enact other curbs have run into Republican opposition in Congress.
The shooting came days before the National Rifle Association annual convention was set to begin in Houston, with the Texas governor and both of the state’s Republican U.S. senators scheduled to speak.
Dillon Silva, whose nephew was in a classroom, said students were watching the Disney movie “Moana” when they heard several loud pops and a bullet shattered a window. Moments later, their teacher saw the attacker stride past.
“Oh, my God, he has a gun!” the teacher shouted twice, according to Silva. “The teacher didn’t even have time to lock the door,” he said.
The close-knit community, built around a shaded central square, includes many families who have lived there for generations.
Lorena Auguste was substitute teaching at Uvalde High School when she heard about the shooting and began frantically texting her niece, a fourth grader at Robb Elementary. Eventually she found out the girl was OK.
But that night, her niece had a question.
“Why did they do this to us?” the girl asked. “We’re good kids. We didn’t do anything wrong.”