Texas gunman walked through seemingly unlocked door – The Mercury News

By JAKE BLEIBERG, JIM VERTUNO and ELLIOT SPAGAT

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — A Texas law enforcement official says the 18-year-old shooter who slaughtered 21 people at an elementary school entered the building “unobstructed” through a door that was apparently unlocked. .

Victor Escalon, regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said on Thursday that Salvador Ramos initially did not encounter any law enforcement officers when he entered Robb Elementary School on Tuesday and opened fire. , killing 19 children and two teachers.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — Law enforcement authorities faced growing questions and criticism on Thursday about how long it took before they stormed a classroom. a Texas elementary school and put an end to a gunman’s rampage that killed 19 children and two teachers.

Separately, after two days of unclear and conflicting accounts from police, a Texas law enforcement official said an armed school district officer did not meet or exchange fire with the abuser, Salvador Ramos, 18, before he entered Robb Elementary in the town of Uvalde, as previously reported.

But many other details about the timing of the events and the police response remained unclear. The motive for the massacre – the deadliest school shooting in the country since Newtown, Connecticut, a decade ago – remains under investigation, with authorities saying Ramos had no criminal or health history. known mind.

During the siege, which ended when a US Border Patrol team burst in and shot the shooter, frustrated onlookers urged officers to charge into the school, witnesses said.

” Go for it ! Go for it ! women yelled at officers soon after the attack began, said Juan Carranza, 24, who observed the scene from outside a house across the street.

Carranza said the officers should have entered the school earlier: “There were more of them. There was only one of him.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said Wednesday that 40 minutes to an hour passed between when Ramos opened fire on the school security guard and when the tactical team fired at him.

“The bottom line is that law enforcement was there,” McCraw said. “They engaged immediately. They contained (Ramos) in the classroom.

But a department spokesperson said Thursday that authorities were still working to clarify the timeline of the attack, unclear whether that 40-minute to one-hour period began when the shooter arrived at the school. or earlier, when he shot his grandmother at home.

“At this time, we don’t have a specific or reliable timeline to provide that the shooter was in school during this time,” Lt. Christopher Olivarez told CNN.

Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz did not give a timeline but said repeatedly that his agency’s tactical officers who arrived at the school did not hesitate. He said they moved quickly to enter the building, lining up in a “stack” behind a shield-wielding officer.

“What we wanted to make sure was to act fast, to act fast, and that’s exactly what these officers did,” Ortiz told Fox News.

But a law enforcement official said once inside the building, Border Patrol agents had difficulty opening the classroom door and had to ask a staff member to open it. the room with a key. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.

Olivarez said investigators are trying to establish whether the classroom was, in fact, locked or barricaded in some way.

Javier Cazares, whose fourth grade daughter, Jacklyn Cazares, was killed in the attack, said he rushed to school as the massacre unfolded. When he arrived, he saw two officers outside the school and about five other people escorting students out of the building. But 15 or 20 minutes passed before officers arrived with shields, equipped to confront the shooter, he said.

As more parents flocked to the school, he and others urged police to act, Cazares said. He heard about four gunshots before he and the others were ordered back to a parking lot.

“A lot of us were arguing with the police, ‘You all have to go. You all have to do your job. Their response was, “We can’t do our job because you’re interfering,” Cazares said.

Ramos crashed his truck into a ditch outside the school, grabbed his AR-15 type semi-automatic rifle and shot two people outside a funeral home, who fled unharmed , according to authorities and witnesses.

As for the armed school officer, he was driving nearby but was not on campus when Ramos crashed his truck, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the incident. case and spoke on condition of anonymity. Investigators concluded that the school officer was not positioned between the school and Ramos, leaving him unable to confront the shooter before he entered the building, the official said. law enforcement.

As Ramos entered the school, two Uvalde police officers exchanged gunfire with him and were injured, according to Olivarez. Ramos began killing his victims in a classroom.

On Wednesday evening, hundreds of people filled the stands at the city’s fairgrounds for a vigil. Some cried. Some closed their eyes while mouthing silent prayers. Parents wrapped their arms around their children as speakers led prayers for healing.

Before attacking the school, Ramos shot and injured his grandmother in the house they shared. Gilbert Gallegos, 82, who lives across the street and has known the family for decades, said he was wading through his yard when he heard the gunshots.

Ramos ran out the front door and across the yard to a truck parked in front of the house and fled: ‘He sped off, I mean fast,’ spraying gravel into the air, said Gallegos.

Ramos’ grandmother came out covered in blood: “She said, ‘Berto, that’s what he did. He shot me.’ She was hospitalized.

Gallegos said he didn’t hear any arguments before or after the shots were fired and didn’t know of any history of bullying or abusing Ramos, whom he rarely saw.

Lorena Auguste was a substitute teacher at Uvalde High School when she heard about the shooting and began frantically texting her niece, a fourth-grader at Robb Elementary. Eventually, she found out that the girl was fine.

But that night, her niece had a question.

“Why did they do this to us?” asked the girl. “We are good kids. We haven’t done anything wrong.

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Bleiberg reported from Dallas.

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Read more about the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas: https://apnews.com/hub/school-shootings

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