Texas Governor Greg Abbott told reporters on Friday that he was misled by authorities in the early days after the shooting, and he is furious.
Abbott said he took careful notes of his briefing on Wednesday, calling it “a recitation of what people in that room were telling me.” He added: “As everyone has learned, the information I was given turned out to be partially inaccurate, and I’m absolutely furious about that.”
[Previous story, published at 3:53 p.m. ET]
“The site commander believed at the time that he had transitioned from an active gunner to a barricaded subject,” said Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Colonel Steven McCraw.
“Of course, from the benefit of hindsight where I am now, it was not the right decision,” McCraw said of the supervisor’s appeal not to confront the gunman. “It was the wrong decision. Period. There is no excuse for that.”
In all, 80 minutes passed between when officers were first called to the school at 11:30 a.m. to when a tactical team entered the locked classrooms and killed the gunman at 12:50 p.m., McCraw said. The tactical team was able to enter with keys from a janitor, he added.
“The number of failures is just unbelievable, unbelievable,” said Anthony Barksdale, the former acting Baltimore Police Commissioner.
“They should have reacted faster and faster,” he said. ‘Did they do that? You know, maybe we would have had a different result.’
Back door of school was open
McCraw also revealed more details about how the gunman was able to enter the school unimpeded.
A school teacher who had pushed open a locked back door a minute earlier saw the crash and the gunman and called 911 – the door remained standing. That 911 call came at 11:30 a.m.
The gunman then walked into the school’s parking lot and began firing into the classroom windows, McCraw said. A school employee, who was not on campus at the time, heard the 911 call and rushed to the school, but drove past the suspect, who was behind a vehicle, McCraw said.
The suspect then entered the school through the propped door at 11:33 a.m. and proceeded to adjacent classrooms 111 and 112, where he continued firing, McCraw said.
Two minutes later, seven officers arrived at the school and approached the locked classrooms where the gunman had barricaded himself. Two of the officers were shot by the suspect from behind the door and suffered abrasions, McCraw said.
The gunman fired 16 more shots into the locked classrooms between 11:37 a.m. and 11:44 a.m., and more officers came into the hallway, McCraw said.
At about the same time, Robb Elementary School posted to its Facebook that the school was locked due to gunfire in the area. Outside the school, distraught parents soon began arriving, desperate to know if their children were still alive, leading to clashes with police trying to set up a perimeter.
Inside the school, at 12:03 a.m., as many as 19 law enforcement officers were in the hallway, but they stayed outside and waited for further tactical team and equipment, McGraw said.
That same minute, at 12:03 a.m., police received a 911 call from a girl who identified herself and whispered she was in room 112, McCraw said. She stayed on the phone for 1 minute and 23 seconds. At 12:10 PM she called back and said there were multiple deaths. Three minutes later she called again.
Members of the Border Patrol’s tactical team, known as BORTAC, arrived with shields at 12:15 PM. There they waited.
The girl called again at 12:16 p.m. and said eight to nine students were still alive, McGraw said. Another student called from room 111 three minutes later, but hung up at the urging of another student. A 911 call at 12:21 p.m. heard three shots, he said.
The gunman had fired more than 100 rounds in the first few minutes of the shooting, but gunfire after that was sporadic and aimed at the door, McCraw said.
“The belief was that maybe no one would be alive and that the subject has now tried to keep law enforcement at bay or trick them into coming in and committing suicide,” he said.
A female college student called 911 at 12:36 PM which lasted 21 seconds, but then called back and was told to hold the line and keep quiet. At 12:43 PM and 12:47 PM, she asked 911 to send the police now.
Finally, at 12:50 PM, the tactical team entered the room and shot and killed the suspect.
Surviving children describe what happened inside
Children who survived the shooting described what happened in the school during the chaos.
Miah and her classmates were watching the movie “Lilo and Stitch” when teachers Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia heard of a gunman in the building. A teacher went to lock the door, but the gunman was there — and shot out the door window, Miah said.
As her teacher backed into the classroom, the gunman followed. He then looked a teacher in the eye, said “good night” and shot her, the girl recalled.
And then he opened fire and shot the other teacher and many of Miah’s friends. Bullets flew past her, Miah said, and fragments hit her shoulders and head. The gunman then went through a door into an adjacent classroom. Miah heard screams and more gunshots. When the shooting stopped, the gunman started playing music that was “sad, like you want people to die,” the girl said.
Afraid he would come back to kill her and her few remaining friends, Miah put her hands in the blood of a murdered friend lying next to her and smeared herself with it, she said. The girl and a friend managed to grab a dead teacher’s phone and call 911 for help, she said. She told a dispatcher, “Please send help, because we’re in trouble.”
The pair then lay down and played dead.
Another student in another classroom, 10-year-old Jayden Perez, said that when he and his classmates heard gunshots, his teacher locked the door and told them to hide and be quiet.
Jayden said he was hiding near the backpack storage area during the shooting. Others in his class sat under a table. All the while he wondered what would happen to them.
“It was very terrifying because I never thought that would happen,” he told DailyExpertNews. “(I am) still sad about some of my friends who have passed away.”
He doesn’t want to go back to school.
“No, because after what happened. I don’t want to. I don’t want to have anything to do with another shooting or with me at school,” he said. “And I know it could probably happen again.”
Parents outside of school begged for action
Chaos and confusion reigned outside the school as distraught parents showed up and begged the police to break in and kill the gunman. One father even asked officers to give him their equipment, he said.
“I myself told one of the officers that if they didn’t want to go in there, I could borrow his gun and a vest and then I’ll go in and handle it myself. And they said no,” said Victor Luna. . cnn. His son survived.
Instead, officers held the parents behind yellow police tape and refused to let them in as crying and screams echoed around them, several videos show.
Members of the US Marshals Service can be seen in a video stopping parents begging to enter the school. US Marshals said in a statement they were called to the school at 11:30 am and arrived about 40 minutes later from Del Rio, about 70 miles away.
The first deputy US Marshals to arrive entered the school to assist the Border Patrol tactical team already working on the gunman. The delegates also provided assistance to victims. Other deputies were asked to secure the perimeter around the school, but never arrested or handcuffed anyone, the agency said.
“Our deputy marshals maintained order and peace amid the grief-stricken community that gathered around the school,” the agency said.
Uvalde Police Chief Daniel Rodriguez issued a statement on Thursday defending his officers’ reaction to the shooting amid mounting criticism.
“It’s important for our community to know that our officers responded within minutes,” he said, along with school officials.
DailyExpertNews’s Tina Burnside, Carroll Alvarado, Adrienne Broaddus, Bill Kirkos, Joe Sutton, Shimon Prokupecz, Travis Caldwell, Michelle Krupa, Elizabeth Wolfe, Jamiel Lynch, Whitney Wild, Andy Rose, Amanda Musa, Alexa Miranda, Monica Serrano, Amanda Jackson, Caroll Alvarado and Holly Yan contributed to this report.