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Thursday, July 7, 2022

Official: Girl told 911 to ‘send police now’ as police waited

UVALDE, Texas ( Associated Press) — Students trapped inside a classroom with a gunman during this week’s attack on a Texas elementary school repeatedly called 911, including one man who said “Please send the police now” , because the officers waited in the hallway for as long as possible. 45 minutes, officials said on Friday.

The commander at the scene in Uvalde, the school district’s police chief, believed the 18-year-old gunman, Salvador Ramos, was locked inside the surrounding classrooms at Robb Elementary School and that the children were no longer in danger, Texas Chief Steven McCraw said in a controversial news conference by the Department of Public Safety.

“It was a wrong decision,” he said.

Friday’s briefing came after officers spent three days providing often conflicting and incomplete information about 90 minutes after Ramos entered the school and when US Border Patrol agents opened the classroom door and killed him. .

When border agents were scheduled to enter the room, there were 19 officers in the hallway outside, McCraw said.

Ramos killed 19 children and two teachers inside the room. Officials said their motive was not clear.

McCraw said gunfire occurred shortly after Ramos entered orbit, where officers eventually killed him, but those shots were “sporadic” for more than the 48 minutes that officers waited in the hallway. He said investigators did not know whether the children died during that time.

During the attack, teachers and children repeatedly called 911 asking for help, including the girl who called the police, McCraw said.

Questions have been raised over how long it took officers to enter the school to confront the gunman.

It was 11:28 a.m. Tuesday when Ramos’s Ford pickup crashed into a ditch behind the bottom of a Texas school and the driver jumped out carrying an AR-15-style rifle., Five minutes after that, officials said, Ramos entered the school and found his way into a fourth-grade classroom where he killed 21 victims.

But it was not until 12:58 p.m. when law enforcement radio chatter said that Ramos had been killed and that the siege was over.

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Those 90 minutes, in a working-class neighborhood near the edge of downtown Uvalde, fueled growing public anger and scrutiny over law enforcement’s response to Tuesday’s stampede.

“They say they walked in,” said Javier Cazares, whose fourth-grade daughter, Jacqueline Cazares, was killed in the attack, and who fled to the school as a massacre. “We didn’t see that.”

After crashing his truck, Ramos opened fire at two men coming out of a nearby funeral home, officials said, according to the new timeline provided by McCraw.

Contrary to earlier statements by officials, a school district police officer was not inside the school when Ramos arrived. When that officer responded, he inadvertently overtook Ramos, who was sitting in the back of a car parked outside and firing at the building, McCraw said.

McCraw said that at 11:33 p.m., Ramos entered the school through the back door, which was kept open, and fired more than 100 rounds at a pair of classrooms. He did not explain why the door was kept open.

Two minutes later, three local police officers arrived and entered the building through the same door, immediately followed by four others, McCraw said. Within 15 minutes, 19 officers from different agencies had gathered in the hallway, taking sporadic fire from Ramos, who was hiding in a classroom.

Ramos was still inside at 12:10 p.m. when the first US Marshals Service deputy arrived. In a tweet on Friday, the agency said they had gone to school in the border town of Del Rio, about 70 miles (113 kilometers) away.

But the commander inside the building — the school district’s police chief, Pete Arredondo — decided the group should wait to confront the gunman, on the belief that the scene was no longer an active assault, McCraw said.

He said the crisis ended at 12:50 when officers used a janitor’s keys to open the classroom door, entered the room, and shot and killed Ramos.

Arredondo could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday. No one answered the door at his house, and he did not respond to a phone message left at the district police headquarters.

Governor Greg Abbott, who praised the police response at Wednesday’s news conference, said on Friday he was “misled” and that he was “bright”.

In his earlier statements, the governor told reporters, he was repeating what he was told. “The information I was given was partly wrong,” he said.

Abbott said that what really happened needs to be investigated “thoroughly, thoroughly”.

Abbott previously praised law enforcement for their “amazing courage in fleeing the gunfight” and their “quick response”.

On Friday, Abbott was scheduled to attend the National Rifle Association’s annual convention, Which is being held in Houston across the state. Instead he addressed a gun-rights group convention via recorded video and went to Uvalde.

At the convention, speaker after speaker took stage to say that changing US gun laws or further restricting access to firearms is not the answer.

“What stops the armed bad guys are the armed good guys,” Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told people gathered in Houston.

Former President Donald Trump was among Republican leaders to speak at the event, where hundreds of protesters demonstrated in anger about gun violence, including some who posed with photographs of Uvalde victims.

Ken Trump, president of the consulting firm National School Safety and Security Services, said the length of the timeline raised questions.

“Based on best practices, it is very difficult to understand why there was any sort of delay, especially when you get into 40 minutes and reports of neutralization of that shooter,” he said.

The motive for the massacre – the nation’s deadliest school shooting since Newtown, Connecticut nearly a decade ago – remains under investigation. Officials have said Ramos had no known criminal or mental health history.

During the siege, frustrated bystanders urged police officers to charge into the school, according to witnesses.

“Get in there! Get in!” The women shouted at officers shortly after the attack began, said 24-year-old Juan Carranza, who saw a scene outside a house across the street.

Carranza said officers should have entered the school sooner: “There were more of them. There was just one of them.”

Cajares said when he arrived he saw two officers outside the school and about five other students being taken out of the building. But 15 or 20 minutes passed before officers arrived with shields equipped to confront the gunman, he said.

As more parents flocked to the school, he and others pressured the police to act, Cajares said. Before he and the others were ordered back to the parking lot, he heard four gunshots.

“A lot of us were arguing with the police, ‘You all need to go out there. You all need to do your job.’ His reply was, ‘We can’t do our job because you guys are interfering,'” Cajares said.

Michael Dorn, executive director of Safe Havens International, which works to make schools safer, cautioned that it is difficult to get a clear understanding of the facts immediately after the shooting.

“The information we have a couple of weeks after an event is usually quite different from the information we get in the first day or two. And even that is usually quite wrong,” Dorn said. .

By Friday, however, it was known enough to leave many parents grappling with the fear.

Visiting a city memorial to those killed, Cassandra Johnson, of the nearby community of Hondo, said she was so worried the day after the attack that she kept her twin boys home from school.

Before she sent the 8-year-olds back, she studied the school building, figuring out which windows she had to break in order to reach them. And he drew hearts on their hands with markers so he could recognize them when the worst happened, Johnson said, as he placed flowers near 21 white crosses honoring the victims.

“Those kids can be my kids,” she said.


Associated Press reporters Claire Gallofaro in Uvalde and Jake Bleiberg in Dallas contributed to this report.


More on the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas: https://apnews.com/hub/school-shootings

World Nation News Desk
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