Gunman Salvador Ramos was in the school for one hour before law enforcement intervened
A Texas state police official said officers waited nearly an hour for back-up before entering the elementary school classroom where a gunman massacred 19 children and two teachers because they worried they “could’ve been shot.”
Evalde police officers were accused by parents of not intervening fast enough when 18-year-old Salvador Ramos armed with an AR-15 barricaded himself inside a classroom, staying inside the room and massacring students, whose bodies were reportedly found in piles and had to be identified via DNA tests.
Texas Department of Public Safety Lt. Chris Olivarez said in a Thursday interview with CNN that the first few officers who entered Robb Elementary School were met with gunfire and retreated to avoid being shot and killed.
“In the active shooter situation, you want to stop the killing, you want to preserve life. But also one thing that, of course, the American people need to understand is that officers are making entry into this building. They do not know where the gunman is. They are hearing gunshots. They are receiving gunshots,” Mr Olivarez said.
“At that point, if they pursued it any further — not knowing where the suspect was at — they could’ve been shot; they could’ve been killed and, at that point, that gunman would have the opportunity to kill other people inside that school.”
Instead of storming the school, local and state police officers waited for a specialised US Border Patrol tactical team to arrive while Ramos remained barricaded inside the classroom.
Ramos had locked the door of the room where he killed all 21 victims, and officers weren’t able to get inside until a school staff member gave them a key.
Mr Olivarez said keeping Ramos inside the classroom was a tactical decision.
“They were able to contain that gunman inside that classroom so that he was not able to go to any other portions of the school to commit any other killings,” he told CNN.
Law enforcement experts slammed the response of police as a dereliction of duty.
“Waiting an hour is disgusting. If that turns out to be true, then it is a disgusting fact,” Sean Burke, a former school police officer and president of the School Safety Advocacy Council, told NBC.
Meanwhile, outside the school building, parents said they were handcuffed by police, tazed, pepper-sprayed in their attempts to force officers to storm the school and stop the attack.
Angeli Rose Gomez who had two children in the school claimed she was placed in handcuffs and told she was under arrest for intervening in an active investigation. “The police were doing nothing,” Angeli Rose Gomez told the Wall Street Journal. “They were just standing outside the fence. They weren’t going in there or running anywhere.
Footage shows chaos unravel outside the school as parents were seen being pinned down by officers amid arguing. “What are you doing – get inside the building!” one person can be heard yelling in the footage. “Go protect the kids!” another said.
“That’s f***ing crazy, bro, they’re standing all outside, there’s f***ing kids in there still, man,” another parent could be heard saying. One mother even said: “You’re scared of getting shot? I’ll go in without a vest, I will!” one mother told an officer.”
The US Marshall’s Service released a statement denying their officers arrested parents at the school adding that their “hearts are heavy with sorrow and sadness.”
“US marshalls received a call for assistance from a Uvalde police department officer to respond to the school shooting at Robb Elementary. Additional deputy US marshalls were asked to expand and secure the official law enforcment perimeter around the school. Deputy marshalls never arrested or placed anyone in handcuffs while securing the crime scene perimeter. Our deputy marshalls, mantained order and peace in the midst of the grief-stricken community,” the statement said.