Texas school shooting: 9-year-old describes escaping through window as anger mounts over law enforcement response

Daniel, 9, alongside his mother, Briana Ruiz, told CNN the shooter fired multiple shots into his classroom after he was unable to enter. The door had been locked by his teacher and the bullets fired hit the teacher and a classmate.

Daniel survived by “first hiding under a table next to the wall”. He said he could see the shooter through the door window.

“I could still see his face,” the boy said. “I could see him staring at the people in front of me.”

Later, Daniel climbed out of a broken window to escape, cutting his hand on glass, he said, and the two injured people in his class would survive.

But her cousin, Ellie Garcia, was in a different class. She was one of 19 children and two teachers killed in the worst school shooting in a decade, and less than a week later major questions remain about the speed of law enforcement response and if more children could have been saved.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has a timeline for Tuesday’s shooting, showing the shooter was in a classroom with students for more than an hour before being shot by a tactical response team from border patrol. Officers arrived at the school within minutes, but the on-scene commander decided to wait over an hour for backup, even as the children locked in the room with the shooter called 911 and asked help from the police.

Video taken from outside the school of the incident, obtained by ABC News, includes what appears to be a dispatch audio informing officers at the scene that a child is calling 911 from a classroom.

“Say we have a kid on the line,” the dispatcher said. “The kid says he’s in the room full of victims.”

The video indicates that police at the scene were informed that at least one child remained alive in the classrooms.

CNN was unable to independently confirm the video/audio. The source of the video is unclear and it is unclear at what point in the incident the audio is heard. CNN has contacted authorities to answer questions about this audio.

Texas DPS Director Steve McCraw told reporters on Friday that there were at least eight 911 calls from at least two separate callers from inside the school, covering a period of nearly 50 minutes. .

At the request of the mayor of Uvalde, the United States Department of Justice announced that it would conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

“The purpose of the review is to provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses that day, and to identify lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare. and respond to active shooting events,” the DOJ said in a statement Sunday. .

Alfred Garcia, whose daughter was killed in the shooting, told CNN he was “in disbelief” at how long it took for the shooting to end and shared his frustration with the authorities’ response.

“It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that it took too long to get in there and, you know, if they had come sooner, and someone would have taken immediate action, we might have more of these children here today, including my daughter,” he said.

Two funerals scheduled for today

The funerals of two victims are scheduled to take place Monday at local funeral homes. Visitation and Rosary for 10-year-old Amerie Jo Garza will be held Monday at Hillcrest Memorial Funeral Home, and services for 10-year-old Maite Yuleana Rodriguez will be held at Rushing Estes Knowles.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden traveled to Uvalde on Sunday to pay their respects, attend mass and lay flowers at a memorial for the victims. The pair also met privately with family members of the victims as well as first responders.
What we know about the victims of Robb Elementary School
In an interview with CNN affiliate KSAT, Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez said Biden told him “we’re going to be looking to tear this school down, build a new one.” Gutierrez said there is a federal grant process for schools like Columbine and other schools to raze those schools. Sandy Hook Elementary was rebuilt after the 2012 shootings, for example.

“What kind of world do we live in that legislation has been created to raze these schools?” Gutierrez asked during the interview.

According to Gutierrez, Biden also told him, “I’m not leaving…I’m going to bring you resources…looking to get real money for mental health care.” There is only one psychiatrist in Uvalde, according to the senator.

Law enforcement response questioned

The actions taken by first responders – or lack thereof – during filming was a focal point for those who say more should have been done sooner.

Texas law enforcement officers are trained to respond quickly, following active shooter guidelines in the state’s 2020 Law Enforcement Commission training manual obtained by CNN. The manual states that “an officer’s first priority is to move and confront the attacker”.

“As first responders, we must recognize that innocent life must be defended,” he says. “A first responder who doesn’t want to put innocent lives ahead of their own safety should consider another career field.”

Biden mourns with Uvalde's families but honors calls to

Seven officers arrived on the scene less than two minutes after the shooter fired into the classroom. Three officers approached the locked classroom where the shooter was, and two officers were grazed by bullets fired from behind the door, DPS said. Officers then moved to the hallway.

Border Patrol officers from a specialist unit arrived at the scene around 12:15 p.m., about 45 minutes after the shooter began shooting. The officer in charge had already determined that the subject was barricaded in the room, according to a source familiar with the situation.

The team then did not enter the classroom for at least another 30 minutes, according to the schedule provided by DPS. Because Border Patrol often plays a supporting role, it will defer to the agency on command, the source said.

A 911 call made at 12:16 p.m., according to the DPS, from a girl in one of the classrooms where students were shot told the operator that eight or nine students were still alive.

When asked on Friday why officers hadn’t moved in sooner, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said “it was believed at the time that the subject was immobile and barricaded. ‘, adding that they thought ‘there was no risk to other children’.

“Looking back from where I’m sitting right now – there were clearly kids in the room, they’re clearly at risk,” McCraw said. “There may be children who are injured, who may have been shot but injured and it is important, in order to save lives, to immediately go to the scene and provide assistance.”

The community comes together

In the aftermath of the shooting, an outpouring of support for community members is provided.

Carlos Hernandez, whose restaurant is a mile from Robb Elementary, wrote on Facebook hours after the shooting, “There’s no way I’m going to open my kitchen with a broken heart and have fun doing it.”

On Thursday — his 33rd birthday — Hernandez decided to cook for the community, whipping up favorite dishes including wings, mac and cheese and fried fish tacos.

Within two hours, Hernandez had distributed more than 60 family-sized platters to feed grieving families and neighbors still learning to cope with the tragedy inflicted on their tight-knit community.

“It’s a really tough situation, I’m just trying to show the kids that they have us as a backbone and a support system,” Hernandez told CNN. “We always deliver whether there is an incident or no incident.”

Elsewhere in Uvalde, the El Progreso Memorial Library has become a place of healing.

On Wednesday, just a day after the shooting, children’s librarian Martha Carreon sat in front of rows of little faces, reading, singing and laughing with the children, taking them to a safe place away from school where many them became witnesses to the horror.

“We want our building to be a safe space, a refuge that is a haven of peace, calm and coolness,” Mendell Morgan, director of the El Progreso Memorial Library, told CNN.

In addition to psychologists who will be available every day of the week for children and adults to talk to, there will also be massage therapists, volunteers for arts and crafts activities, pianists to play soothing music and even magicians to organize professional magic shows.

“It’s a strong community where we really care about each other,” Morgan said. “Many, if not most here, cling to their faith believing in God, that good is stronger than evil and that light is stronger than darkness.”

CNN’s Alaa Elassar, Ed Lavandera, Amanda Watts, Hannah Sarisohn, Virginia Langmaid, Paula Reid, Priscilla Alvarez, Jennifer Henderson, Christina Maxouris, Holly Yan and Aya Elamroussi contributed to this report.

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