On Wednesday, an 18-year-old Salvador Ramos gunned down 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Texas. The shooting adds to the long list of mass shootings in the US. The incident has raised questions about American gun laws. New details which emerged from the timeline of the attack have raised questions about safety and security arrangements outside the school and the response of the police.
On Thursday, authorities largely ignored questions about why officers had not been able to stop the shooter sooner, with Victor Escalon, regional director for the Texas Department of Public Safety, telling reporters he had “taken all those questions into consideration” and would offer updates later.
- After shooting his grandma, the gunman crashed his truck in a ditch outside the school at 11:28 am. He exited the truck with his rifle and shot at two people across the street, Escalon said.
- The gunman next approached the school and shot at the building multiple times before walking in through an 'apparently unlocked door'. The former principal of the school told CNN that the door would normally be kept locked "unless you are leaving to go home on the school bus".
- Escalon said the gunman was not confronted by the school resource officer outside the building. However, the agency had previously said an officer had 'engaged' the shooter. “He walked in unobstructed initially,” Escalon said. However, as per the latest information, there was no armed officer readily available.
- The gunman then walked into a classroom and fired more than 25 rounds. Escalon said most of the firing was at the beginning of the attack.
- After more than 15 minutes, at 11:44 am, the officers arrived and went to confront the gunman. "They called for more resources and personnel, evacuated students and teachers in other parts of the school, and at some point entered "negotiations" with the suspect, he said," he added. After that, a US Border Patrol tactical team entered the classroom and fatally shot the suspect after an hour.
- The crisis came to an end after a group of Border Patrol tactical officers entered the school roughly an hour later, at 12:45 p.m., said Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson Travis Considine. They engaged in a shootout with the gunman, who was holed up in the fourth-grade classroom. Moments before 1 p.m., he was dead.
- Earlier, the state media reported that the Uvalde school district had a "safety plan that included its own police force, social media monitoring and a threat reporting system to provide a safe and secure environment for students".
The website of the district listed 21 different measures that it claimed to have undertaken for the safety of the school community, which included an app for reporting bullying and physical security measures, like fencing and a buzz-in door system. Now, questions are being raised about the planning.
Ken Trump, president of the consulting firm National School Safety and Security Services, said the length of the timeline raised questions.
“Based on best practices, it’s tough to understand why there were any types of delays, particularly when you get into reports of 40 minutes and up of going in to neutralize that shooter,” he said.
Many other details of the case and the response remain murky. The motive for the massacre — the nation’s deadliest school shooting since Newtown, Connecticut, almost a decade ago — remained under investigation, with authorities saying Ramos had no known criminal or mental health history.
During the siege, frustrated onlookers urged police officers to charge into the school, according to witnesses.
“Go in there! Go in there!” women shouted at the officers soon after the attack began, said Juan Carranza, 24, who watched the scene from outside a house across the street.
Carranza said the officers should have entered the school sooner: “There were more of them. There was just one of him.”
Defending the officers, Uvalde Police Chief Daniel Rodriguez issued a statement saying two responding officers were shot by the suspect but are expected to survive. "It is important for our community to know that our officers responded within minutes," he said.
A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) said that officers did not have enough information on the exact location of the shooter to do an immediate takedown.