2022 – Investigators question the delayed police response to the Reuters school shooting in Texas

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© Reuters. A general view of the Town Square memorial outside the courthouse circuit for the shooting victims at Robb Elementary School in Ovaldi, Texas, US, May 27, 2022. Photo taken by a drone. Photograph: Marco Bello/Reuters

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By Brad Brooks and Gabriella Porter

Ovaldi, Texas (Reuters) – Texas investigators on Saturday tried to determine how critical mistakes were made in the Ovaldi shooting, including why about 20 police officers stayed outside an elementary school classroom where children panicked to seek help. .

Why officers waited in the hallway for nearly an hour before entering and fatally shooting a shooter is the focus of an ongoing investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety into the massacre of 19 children and two teachers in the deadliest shooting at an American school in nearly a decade.

Investigators are still searching for a motive for the attack. Salvador Ramos, a high school dropout, had no criminal record and no history of mental illness, although threatening messages he sent on social media are now starting to surface.

At least two kids made 911 calls from two adjacent fourth-grade classes after 18-year-old Ramos entered with a semi-automatic AR-15 rifle Tuesday, Col. Stephen Macro, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said. earlier this week.

“He’s in room 112,” a girl whispered into the phone at 12:03 p.m. At 12:43 pm, and again four minutes later, the same girl begged the emergency services “Please send the police immediately.” Finally, at 12:51 p.m., or more than 45 minutes after she made her first 911 call, a tactical team led by the US Border Patrol rushed in and ended the siege of Robb Elementary School.

In all, at least eight 911 calls were made from the room while the police were waiting in the hallway.

McCro said the commander at the site, the school district’s police department chief, incorrectly decided at the time when Ramos was barricaded inside and the children were no longer in immediate danger, giving officers time to prepare.

“It was the wrong decision, period,” McCraw said, acknowledging that standard law enforcement protocols call for police to immediately confront an active gunman at the school rather than waiting for reinforcements or more firepower.

A person familiar with the matter said that Tactical Border Patrol agents at the site have been frustrated by the lack of clear guidance from the commander, and believe this is delaying efforts to end the attack.

The person said that when Border Police officers entered the classroom behind a ballistic shield, the gunman came out of a closet and shot them. Ramos was shot dead.

honoring the dead

On Saturday, a memorial in the main square of Ovaldi, a town of 16,000, west of San Antonio, was filled to capacity. Families settled around the fountain and placed flowers, balloons, and stuffed animals on 21 crosses erected to honor the dead. Children wrote letters on the sidewalk with chalk.

President Joe Biden, a Democrat who urged Congress to approve new gun restrictions after the shooting and massacre at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, just 10 days ago, will visit Ovaldi on Sunday to pay respects to the victims.

The Yuvaldi tragedy and Biden’s calls for stricter regulations come as the United States’ leading gun rights advocacy group, the National Rifle Association (NRA), holds its annual conference just 270 miles away in Houston.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican and staunch gun rights advocate, speaking in a video before the NRA meeting on Friday, criticized the police response at a subsequent news conference, saying he was “outraged by what happened.”

Abbott denied that newly enacted Texas gun laws, including a controversial measure to remove licensing requirements for carrying a concealed handgun, had “any connection” to Tuesday’s bloodshed. He suggested that state legislatures refocus their attention on treating mental illness.

In addition to the officers waiting in the hallway, McCraw described other moments in which Ramos may have been thwarted. A school official answered calls about a gunman who had a car accident at the funeral home across the street, who passed Ramos while sitting next to a car in the school building. Police said Ramos shot two people standing outside before climbing over the fence on the school grounds.

With growing criticism of the law enforcement response, police officers from as far away as Houston and Dallas have come to Yuvaldi to support local authorities and, in some cases, the Uvalde police force, the mayor and the gun store where Ramos purchased two protections. semi-automatic rifles;