That’s a change from last week, when the department’s Director Col. Steven McCraw said the back door had been propped open by a teacher. On Tuesday, its spokesperson Travis Considine told the Associated Press the teacher closed the door once she realized a shooter was on campus, but the door did not lock. The department’s press secretary confirmed Tuesday to CNN the AP report was accurate.
Tuesday’s clarification about the door represents just one of the shifts in authorities’ explanation of the massacre’s timeline. They face mounting questions over why 80 minutes elapsed from the time officers were first called to the moment a tactical team entered the locked classrooms and killed the gunman.
Meanwhile, families and friends have begun burying their loved ones, and the community continues to cope. In the sun-drenched town square, a park fountain is the centerpiece of a growing memorial honoring those lost.
Hundreds of flower bouquets ring the fountain, stacked alongside toys, stuffed animals, candles and letters in memory of the 21 killed. Framed posters show smiling faces, leaning against walls covered with hearts drawn and names written in chalk.
On a pathway leading to the square, visitors slowly walk past a row of crosses, stopping to pray or reflect on the devastating tragedy. Each cross — several feet tall and draped with flowers, balloons and messages of remembrance — carries the name of someone killed.
Ryan Ramirez, the father of Alithia Ramirez, said he waited for nearly 12 hours before learning she was killed. He described his 10-year-old daughter as “very lovable and kind.”
“She was just there for anybody that needed anything. And that was one thing that we all loved about her,” he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday.
Alithia “loved drawing,” her father said, and when he met with President Joe Biden during his Uvalde visit on Sunday, Biden told him that he would have one of Alithia’s drawings displayed at the White House.
She “always had a crayon in hand, just going to town,” Ramirez said.
As the community mourns, more details are emerging about how those inside responded to the terror.
Robb Elementary educator Nicole Ogburn said she had just turned on a movie for her students when she saw someone carrying a gun outside her classroom window.
“I just, like, looked out the window and I see this guy with a gun walking up. And I just told my class, get on the ground, get on the ground, get to the corner,” Ogburn told CNN affiliates KABB/WOAI.
“I just kept hearing shots fired, and I just kept praying, ‘God, please don’t let him in my room, please don’t let him come in this room,’ and for some reason, he didn’t.”
Several 911 phone calls were made from the classrooms where the gunman unleashed his deadly onslaught, with children pleading for police to intervene, a timeline provided by the state Department of Public Safety revealed.
Three people injured by the gunman remained hospitalized Tuesday at University Hospital San Antonio. The gunman’s 66-year-old grandmother, who was shot in the face before the attack on the school, is in good condition; a 9-year-old girl is in good condition; and a 10-year-old girl is in serious condition, the hospital said.
Police chief sworn in as city council member
Meanwhile, the Uvalde school district police chief who was the incident commander during the shooting, was sworn in as a city council member on Tuesday after being elected to the post last month.
Pedro “Pete” Arredondo has faced criticism for the decision to have officers posted in the hallway outside the classrooms where the shooting took place, waiting for more than an hour to intervene before a Border Patrol tactical team entered the room and killed the gunman.
McCraw said the person who made the decision not to breach the Uvalde elementary school classroom was the school district police chief, calling it the “wrong decision” to not engage the gunman sooner.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said no swearing-in ceremony was held Tuesday, “out of respect for the families who buried their children today, and who are planning to bury their children in the next few days.” The mayor had said Monday the special city council meeting “will not take place as scheduled,” adding “our focus on Tuesday is on our families who lost loved ones.”
The Justice Department announced Sunday it will conduct a review of the law enforcement response to the shooting at the mayor’s request.
More resources are inbound, state says
With attention being directed at the law enforcement response, Texas officials are also working to address the current needs on the ground, they said.
To expedite the allocation of state and local resources, Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster for Uvalde on Tuesday, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
“The disaster declaration will accelerate all available state and local resources to assist the Uvalde community, as well as suspend regulations that would prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the aftermath of the tragic shooting,” the release said.
“The community of Uvalde has been left devastated by last week’s senseless act of violence at Robb Elementary School and should not have to encounter any difficulty in receiving the support needed to heal,” Abbott said.
Other assistance has come from acts of service by volunteers from out-of-town.
Patrick Johnson, 58, was so overcome with grief after hearing about the shooting that he drove seven hours from Harleton, Texas, to Uvalde, filling his trunk with children’s toys from a Walmart to pass out in the town square, he told CNN.
For three days, children were invited to choose any toy they liked from a table crowded with stuffed animals, miniature cars and soccer balls.
“When you lose something, especially as a child, you need something else to hold onto,” Johnson said. “It brings joy to the kids, so it brings joy to me.”
CNN’s Andy Rose, Omar Jimenez, Christina Maxouris, Alaa Elassar, Eric Levenson, Raja Razek, Joe Sutton, Jeremy Grisham and Virginia Langmaid contributed to this report.