One of the senior police officers at the scene of the school massacre that killed 21 people has admitted police botched their response.
Police officers responding to the school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, “made the wrong decision” as they waited to break through the classroom door where a gunman had barricaded himself with children, a senior law enforcement officer said Friday.
The site commander made the appeal that the massacre at Robb Elementary School on Tuesday had changed from an active gunman situation to a “barricaded suspect” situation, Texas Department of Public Safety director Colonel Steven McCraw said in a briefing.
Colonel McCraw said afterwards that it was clear there were still students inside and in danger, the report said New York Post†
“Of course it wasn’t the right decision, it was the wrong decision period,” Colonel McCraw said.
The confession came when police first revealed the gunman marched in through an unlocked door that had been held open by a teacher.
The teacher closed the door at 11:27 a.m., a minute before 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos crashed his car into a ditch near Robb Elementary School on Tuesday.
Authorities are trying to explain why it took an hour to take out Ramos, whose frenzy killed 19 children and two teachers.
Messages Ramos posted on Facebook that he planned to shoot his grandmother and shoot the school for the massacre were false — though he did say so in private one-on-one messages to a user, he said. Colonel McCraw.
“That didn’t happen. It actually happened on a message.” said Colonel McCraw.
New details emerged during the press conference, including that Ramos had asked his sister to help him buy a gun in September 2021, but she declined.
He then took part in an Instagram group chat in February. 28, 2022 about being a school shooter. On March 1, he discussed buying a gun. On March 3, at another four-man conversation, he was asked if he had bought a gun.
“I just bought something rn (sic),” Ramos said, according to Colonel McCraw.
On March 14, he made the chilling message “10 more days”. One user replied, “Are you going to shoot the school or something?”
“No, stop asking stupid questions” and “you will see,” he replied, according to authorities.
Police struggle to explain why they waited so long
Ramos crashed into a car in a ditch near the school and wandered the grounds, firing shots for over 10 minutes before entering the school “unobstructed” and through an unlocked door. The first officers arrived four minutes later, but withdrew under fire from Ramos.
It took police about an hour to shoot and kill Ramos, who had barricaded himself in a classroom — and officials have struggled to explain that gap in time.
Emergency response experts have said a quicker response may have limited the slaughter, or could have meant the injured had to undergo life-saving treatment before it was too late.
Disturbing videos have surfaced showing desperate parents outside the school begging cops to storm the building while the madman stays inside with kids. Some parents were willing to take action themselves, and the clips show officers holding one parent and pushing the other.
‘We are parents! Get him out!’ a mother begs an officer in a video obtained by the Washington Post†
“You know they’re kids, right?” an angry man yelled at the police, who seem to be standing their ground.
“They’re little kids, they don’t know how to defend themselves… six-year-old kids in there, they don’t know how to defend themselves against a gunman!”
Ramos shot his grandmother and stole her pickup truck before crashing into it around 11:28 am. Officials said Tuesday. He jumped out of the passenger side with a long pistol and a bag of ammunition before firing at two bystanders at a nearby funeral home.
The first 911 call at the scene came in at 11:30 am and the police did not arrive until 10 minutes later. Meanwhile, Ramos jumped over a fence into the school parking lot, fired at the school building, then sauntered inside.
The Police Change Story
Authorities changed their initial story that a school employee had “involved” Ramos before entering the building.
“It was reported that a school district police officer confronted the suspect as he entered,” Victor Escalon, director of the South Texas Public Safety Department, said at a news conference Thursday.
“That is not true. He walked in unimpeded at first. So from the grandmother’s hours, to the bar ditch, to the school, to the school, he was not confronted by anyone.”
Most of the shots came shortly after Ramos entered the building, authorities said.
According to reports, officers had to wait for a school staff member to unlock the door where Ramos had been barricaded. A reporter asked Mr. Escalon to “clarify all this now” and explain why no one could enter the room, but could only say “we will go back with you”.
“We want to give you the ‘why’. Give us time,” he said.
He called it “a tough question” when a reporter asked if the police should have stormed the building before the tactical unit arrived.
“Our job is to report the facts and later we can answer those questions. I don’t have enough information yet to answer that question,” he said.
Escalon told reporters that “there are many possibilities” as to why the police didn’t come in sooner or that another group could have caught the gunman before the tactical unit arrived. An expert interviewed by The mail called the delay “a very serious mistake”.
“In my opinion, there should have been an immediate response with the initial response of the violence,” said Maria Haberfeld, a professor of police science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, New York.
“Every second, every minute you wait, you’re making another victim.”
When the alarms for active gunmen went off, parents panicked at the school for the safety of their loved ones, videos show. But c2ec2d8ac89ff84170759b06c699f166, yelling at some to “take cover”.
“Are you afraid of getting shot?” a mother hears yelling at a cop. “I’m going in without a vest – I will!”
Another excited parent yells, “Are your kids in there? No!”
Reportedly, at least one parent was allowed in: an off-duty border patrol officer who burst into the school and went straight to a wing where he knew his daughter was going to second grade. Jacob Albarado told the New York Times he helped evacuate his daughter and others when he went to the school where his wife is also a teacher.
The story appeared in the New York Post and is reproduced with permission.