Officials in Texas are today facing growing outrage over the law enforcement response to Tuesday’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, in which an 18-year-old gunman claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers.
It has emerged that the shooter was locked in a classroom at robb elementary for a full hour before a Swat team broke in and killed him, during which frantic parents outside the school pleaded with officers to move in and end the massacre.
At a press conference Thursday that quickly went off the rails, Victor Escalonregional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS), was unable to explain why officers waited to storm the classroom.
Escalon also changed the official narrative of the shooting by admitting that there was not an armed officer at the school who confronted the gunman as he entered, and that the shooter was able to gain entry unchallenged, probably through an unlocked back door.
Earlier in the day, reporters were told that law enforcement engaged with killer Salvador Ramos as he went on to the campus with an AR-15 style assault weapon.
It was reported that one of the victims, a 10-year-old girl, was bleeding for an hour after being shot and died in hospital, although it is not known if an earlier intervention would have saved her life.
TDPS Lt Chris Olivarez was challenged about the delay on CNN last night, claiming that officers “could have been killed” had they rushed in:
The American people need to understand… officers are making entry into this building. They do not know where the gunman is. They are hearing gunshots. They are receiving gunshots.
At that point, if they proceeded any further not knowing where the suspect was at, they could’ve been shot, they could’ve been killed, and that gunman would have had an opportunity to kill other people inside that school.
The controversy has growing parallels with the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, where an on-site school resource officer, and other cops first on the scene, chose to wait outside instead of confronting the gunman. Several were later disciplined.
Joseph Giacalonea law enforcement trainer and retired New York police department sergeant, said on CNN Friday morning that officers responding to an active shooter situation are obliged to move in at the first opportunity.
The idea is to neutralize them, at the very least draw attention away from the other potential victims towards the police.
You have to engage this guy immediately. And yes, you’re going to receive gunfire. That’s the idea behind it. It sounds crazy and it is, but unfortunately, that’s what has to be done.
Here’s my colleague Ed Pilkington‘s story from last night on the police response to the Uvalde shooting:
Good morning and welcome to our live blog covering developments in Tuesday’s mass shooting at Robb elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers.
Outrage is mounting over the law enforcement response to the massacre, after it emerged the gunman was locked in a classroom for a full hour before a Swat team broke in and killed him.
Fury is also growing that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is pressing ahead with its annual conference, beginning Friday in Houston, less than 300 miles from the scene of the shooting. donald trump is among the speakers.
Meanwhile, families of those killed by the 18-year-gunman are preparing to hold the first funerals.
and Joe Biden and the first lady, Jill Bidenwill visit Uvalde on Sunday to grieve with the community and talk with civic leaders and first responders, the president’s second trip to the site of a mass shooting in two weeks following the killing of 10 Black people in a Buffalo, New York, supermarket earlier this month.
We’ll have all the developments through the day.
While we wait for the day to unfold, here’s the Guardian’s Daniel Anguiano in Uvalde on the heavy cloud of grief hanging over the devastated community:
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism