Questions about the role of the police present at Uvalde primary school, where a teenager killed nineteen children and two teachers on Tuesday, keep piling up. While families denounce the inaction of the police officers who were in front of the school, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steven McCraw, revealed on Friday, May 27, that officers had indeed entered the establishment as soon as 11:35 a.m., a few minutes after the shooter entered it.
Shortly after noon, there were nineteen of them in the hallway outside the classroom where the shooter, Salvador Ramos, had locked himself up. They waited for more than forty-five minutes before Border Police forces entered the school and stormed, opening the door with just a key. The police made a “bad decision”, admitted Mr. McCraw when asked about the delay.
The commander believed that the shooter had barricaded himself in a room, that the children “were no longer in danger” and that the police “had time to organize themselves”, he justified. “Looking back now, of course it wasn’t the right decision,” he repeated, acknowledging that local agents like the Border Patrol, who finally stormed after 12:45 p.m., had been ordered not to intervene.
Pressed by reporters to explain, the official said law enforcement believed “there may be no more survivors.”
Several children called 911
During this press conference, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety nevertheless reported several calls for help made by children in the classroom with the shooter. The first call to 911 was recorded at 12:03 p.m. As of 12:10 p.m., a child announced the death of several others. At 12:16 p.m., this same student reported that eight or nine children were alive. Half an hour later, another student pleaded to “send the police.”
Steven McCraw also told reporters that the shooting was “sporadic” for most of the 48 minutes officers waited outside the classroom. According to him, the investigators do not know if children were killed during this period, nor how many. The teenager fired more than 100 bullets during the shootout.
At least two of the children who called 911 survived, McCraw said. Authorities still don’t know if the “eight or nine” children who were reported alive at 12:16 p.m. were among the nineteen victims.
These announcements follow three days of vague and contradictory statements from the authorities on the circumstances of the massacre that mourns Uvalde.
Border Police Chief Raul Ortiz said on Thursday that officers “didn’t hesitate.” They moved quickly into position to enter the building, in a column of assault, behind an officer holding a shield. “They’ve come up with a plan. They walked into the classroom and they came up with a solution as quickly as they could,” he told CNN.