UVALDE, Texas, USA ( Associated Press) —
About 20 police officers stood in a hallway outside classrooms for more than 45 minutes during this week’s shooting mass at a Texas elementary school until they used a skeleton key to open a door and confront the armed assailant, they said Friday. The authorities.
The police commander at the scene believed that the armed assailant Salvador Ramos, 18, had barricaded himself in a classroom at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde during Tuesday’s attack and that the children were not in danger, the director said. of the Department of Public Safety, Steven McCraw, at a press conference.
“He was convinced at the time that the boys were no longer in danger; that the subject had barricaded himself and they had time to organize ”to get him into the classroom, McCraw said.
“Of course, it was not the right decision, but the wrong one,” he said.
McCraw said Border Patrol agents eventually used a skeleton key to open the locked classroom door, where they confronted and killed Ramos, who had killed 19 students and two teachers.
McCraw said there was a volley of gunfire shortly after Ramos entered the classroom where he was gunned down, though the gunshots were “sporadic” for much of the 48 minutes officers waited outside the hallway. He said investigators don’t know how many children died and if they died during those 48 minutes.
During the massacre, teachers and children repeatedly called 911 for help, including a girl who pleaded “please send the police over now,” McCraw said.
Doubts have increased about the time it took for the agents to enter the school to confront the armed subject.
It was 11:28 a.m. Tuesday when Ramos arrived in his Ford pickup truck and fell into a ditch at the back of the school, landing with an AR-15-style rifle.
Twelve minutes later, authorities said, 18-year-old Ramos entered Robb Elementary School and headed to a fourth-grade classroom, where he killed 19 students and two teachers in a still-unexplained rampage.
But it was only at 12:58 p.m. that police radio conversations said that Ramos had been annihilated and the crisis had passed.
What happened in those 90 minutes, in a working-class neighborhood near the edge of the town of Uvalde, has fueled growing public anger and has put the police reaction to Tuesday’s massacre under scrutiny.
“They say they came quickly,” said Javier Cazares, whose fourth-grade daughter, Jacklyn Cazares, was one of the fatalities. “We didn’t see that,” said Cazares, who had rushed to the school during the crisis.