Desperate parents yelled at police to enter the Texas elementary school where a massacre was taking place, with some trying to approach the building themselves before being restrained by officers, according to videos recorded during the the attack.
Videos released Thursday, along with preliminary accounts of the timeline of the shootings from authorities, suggest up to an hour elapsed between when the attack began and when specially trained officers broke into the fourth grade classroom where 18-year-old Salvador Ramos had killed 19 children and two teachers – and shot him dead.
In a video posted to Facebook by a man named Angel Ledezma, parents can be seen breaking the yellow police tape and shouting for officers to enter the building.
“It’s been an hour already, and they still can’t get all the kids out,” Ledezma said during the video.
Ledezma did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Another video posted to YouTube showed officers detaining at least one adult.
A woman can be heard saying, “Why let the children die? There’s gunshots in there.”
“We’ve got guys picking up kids,” an officer is heard telling the crowd.
A spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, Chris Olivarez, said investigators are still trying to confirm a specific timeline, including how long Ramos was barricaded inside the classroom.
The shooting has reignited a debate across the United States over national gun laws.
President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats have pledged to push for new restrictions, despite resistance from Republicans.
There were few warning signs: Ramos, a high school dropout, had no criminal record or history of mental illness.
Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that Ramos wrote an online message to someone minutes before the attack saying he was about to “shoot an elementary school.”
Authorities said Ramos shot his grandmother in the face in the home they shared before fleeing and crashing his car outside Robb Elementary School around 11:30 a.m.
Her grandmother, hospitalized in critical condition, managed to call the police.
Outside the school, Ramos, armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, evaded a school policeman, dropping a bag full of ammunition.
Officials have offered conflicting accounts as to whether Ramos and the officer exchanged gunfire before Ramos could enter the school.
“We’re trying to establish exactly what his role was and how he met the shooter,” Olivarez told CNN.
Ramos injured two officers who responded in a hallway before barricading themselves in a fourth-grade classroom, Olivarez said.
The attack prompted a massive response from law enforcement, including hundreds of officers, who surrounded the building and smashed windows in a bid to let children and staff go.
Eventually, members of a U.S. Border Patrol tactical unit entered the classroom and apparently killed Ramos, with one officer injured in the crossfire, officials said.
The Uvalde Police Department announced the incident was over shortly after 1 p.m.
Olivarez said the attack lasted between 40 and 60 minutes, although he couldn’t say whether that period started when Ramos shot his grandmother or when the teenager arrived at school.
The FBI is working to obtain surveillance footage from school cameras.
At least 17 people were also injured, including several children.
Relatives of the victims took to social media to express their anguish over the loss of children who never returned from school.
“We told her we loved her and would pick her up after school,” Kimberly Mata-Rubio posted on Facebook in remembrance of her daughter, Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, an honored fourth-grader.
“We had no idea it was goodbye.”
In Washington, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate appeared far from compromising on new gun restrictions.
Biden, who has urged Congress to act, will visit Uvalde in the coming days.
The National Rifle Association’s annual meeting begins Friday in Houston, where Republicans including Abbott, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and former President Donald Trump were scheduled to address the gun rights group.
The NRA expressed sympathy for the victims, but said the event would go ahead as planned.