Law enforcement officials are facing questions Thursday about how much time passed before they stormed into an Uvalde, Texas elementary school to end a rampage by a gunman who killed 19 children and 2 adults.
Investigators of the active shooting event have been unable to determine whether an armed school district security officer exchanged fire with the 18-year-old gunman when he arrived Tuesday morning. They are also still working to determine a motive of the shooter, Salvador Ramos, who authorities say had no known criminal or mental health history.
Ramos was ultimately shot dead by a Border Patrol officer who burst in to the classroom where he had barricaded himself. Witnesses, however, say that frustrated onlookers pushed police officers onsite to charge into the school as the shooter carried out the massacre.
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said Wednesday that between 40 and 60 minutes passed from when Ramos first began shooting to when the tactical Border Patrol team member shot him. But later, a spokesperson for the department was unable to give a solid estimate for how long the gunman was in the school. McCraw says that law enforcement “did engage immediately.”
One law enforcement official with insight into the situation says the Border Patrol agents had difficulty opening the classroom door and had to ask a staff member to retrieve a key to open the room, according to a report in the Associated Press.
According to the outlet, one parent who lost a fourth grade daughter in the attack – Javier Cazares – said when he arrived at the school police were still gathered outside. “Let’s just rush in because the cops aren’t doing anything like they are supposed to. More could have been done,” he said. “They were unprepared.”