Police have admitted to a series of astonishing failures – including driving right by the shooter – in responding to the shooting at a Texas school as children were massacred inside, the head of the Public Safety Department of state indicating that it was time to make excuses for the sloppy response was over.
Friday’s press conference came after days of confusion, inconsistencies and a confusing timeline of law enforcement’s response to the trashing of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Speaking about the delay in getting into the classroom where the shooter was, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said that “in hindsight, where I’m sitting now, of course, it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision. There is no excuse for this.
“There were kids in that class who were still at risk,” he added.
McCraw revealed that the shooter entered the school through a back door he found open at 11:33 a.m. and began firing into classrooms 111 and 112. At least 100 shots were fired “at the basis of the audio evidence at that time,” he said.
Just two minutes later, at least three police officers entered through the same door as the shooter. At 12:03 p.m., there were up to 19 officers in the hallway.
However, it was not until 12:50 p.m. that the classroom in which the shooter was shot was broken into with the help of a janitor’s keys. It was then that the shooter was shot.
At a press conference late Friday afternoon, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he was “livid” after being “misled” about early reports of the response from the police to the shootout.
Investigators must “get to the exact seconds of what happened with 100% accuracy and explain it to the public and especially to the victims who were devastated,” the governor said.
Abbott insisted law enforcement will get to the bottom of why responding police didn’t take more aggressive action to “eliminate” the killer.
“There will be ongoing investigations that will detail exactly who knew what when, who was responsible and what strategy (was used), why was this particular strategy used, why were other strategies not not been used?” he said.
“In the end, why didn’t they choose the strategy that would have been best to eliminate the killer and save the children.”
Among the more stark revelations revealed earlier Friday by McCraw:
- A school resource officer was not already in place at the school. When he arrived at the scene, he inadvertently passed the shooter, who was crouching next to a car.
- The back door of the school the shooter entered had been opened by a teacher earlier in the day.
- A student in room 112 called 911 at 12:03 p.m. She called back several times. At 12:16 p.m., she said there were “eight to nine students alive,” McCraw said.
- At least two children called 911 for help. They survived the shooting, McCraw said.
- McCraw said the on-scene commander thought “it was a barricaded subject situation” and didn’t think there were “more children at risk.”
- Fifty-eight magazines were recovered. Three were on the shooter’s body, two were found in Class 112 and six in Class 111. Five others were found on the ground and one in the rifle the shooter was brandishing.
- The shooter asked his sister to buy him a gun in September 2021 and she refused.
- The shooter posted several alarming messages on Instagram. During a four-person group chat in March, he commented on buying a gun.
- On March 14, he posted on Instagram “10 more days”. When asked by a user if he was going to shoot a school, he replied, “No. Stop asking silly questions and you’ll see.
McCraw was overwhelmed by reporters demanding an explanation for the delay in the classroom breach.
“A decision was made that this was a barricaded subject situation, there was time to collect the keys and wait for a tactical team with the equipment to move forward and get through the carries and tackles the subject at this point,” he explained. “That was the decision, that was the thought process at that exact moment.”
When asked how he was doing, McCraw broke down.
“Forget how I am. And the parents ? And these children? he said. “Whenever something tragic like this happens, we want to know why it happened and how we can do better next time.”
Texas law enforcement officials have come under scrutiny for their handling of the attack after it was revealed it took more than an hour to arrest the shooter.
Officials said Thursday that responding officers were waiting for backup before moving in while the shooter was locked in a classroom – a move one expert called “disgusting”.
They also revealed that the shooter was not confronted by a school policeman when he arrived and entered the building without incident. Police said earlier a school resource officer confronted the shooter before he entered the building. Black, Asian and Latino communities were targeted. Tuesday’s shooting tore at the heart of the tight-knit community of Uvalde, just an hour’s drive northeast of the Mexican border and home to a large Latino community.
And it has once again spurred the gun rights debate in Texas, a state with some of the most vocal Second Amendment advocates in power.
This is a developing story. Please check for updates.