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Texas gunman entered school unhindered

Texas gunman was able to enter school unimpeded before killing 21

epa09973533 Police and investigators continue to work at the scene of a mass shooting at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, USA, 24 May 2022. According to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, at least 18 children and two adults were killed in the shooting. The eighteen-year-old gunman was killed by responding officers. EPA-EFE/AARON M. SPRECHER
By Reuters
27 May 2022 0

UVALDE, Texas, May 26 (Reuters) - The gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers crossed the grounds of the Texas elementary school without being confronted and entered the building through an unlocked door, authorities said on Thursday, offering another new account of the events that proceeded the massacre.

By Brad Brooks and Gabriella Borter

Salvador Ramos, 18, was barricaded inside a classroom at Robb Elementary School for an hour before a tactical team finally breached the room and fatally shot him, police confirmed. Parents outside implored officers to storm the building.

The Uvalde school district has a locked classroom door policy as a security measure. The latest details from officials contradicted some early statements and raised fresh questions about the chronology of events, the speed of law enforcement’s response and the school’s safety precautions.

Ramos crashed his pickup truck outside the school at 11:28 a.m. (1628 GMT) on Tuesday, fired several shots at two bystanders across the street and walked into the school at 11:40 a.m. (1640 GMT), Victor Escalon, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said at a news conference.

Escalon said two responding officers entered the school four minutes later but took cover after Ramos fired multiple rounds at them. He barricaded himself in a fourth-grade classroom, where he shot his victims, mostly 9- and 10-year-olds, in the deadliest U.S. school shooting in nearly a decade.

Asked if officers should have gone in sooner, Escalon said, “That’s a tough question,” adding that authorities would offer more information as the investigation proceeds. He described a chaotic scene after the initial exchange of gunfire, with officers calling for backup and evacuating students and staff.

The newly detailed account came hours after videos emerged showing desperate parents outside the school during the attack, pleading with officers to storm the building, with some fathers having to be restrained.

In one video posted on Facebook by a man named Angel Ledezma, parents can be seen breaking through yellow police tape and yelling at officers to go into the building.

“It’s already been an hour, and they still can’t get all the kids out,” Ledezma said in the video. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Another video posted on YouTube showed officers restraining at least one adult. One woman can be heard saying, “Why let the children die? There’s shooting in there.”

“We got guys going in to get kids,” one officer is heard telling the crowd. “They’re working.”

There was no armed police officer stationed at the school, Escalon told reporters. The gunman fired more than 25 shots at the outset of the attack, the majority of times he fired, Escalon said.

The massacre, the latest in a years-long string of mass shootings, has reignited a national debate over the country’s gun laws. President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats have vowed to push for new restrictions, despite resistance from Republicans. Read full story

‘NO IDEA THIS WAS GOODBYE’

Investigators are still working to determine a motive, Escalon said. Ramos, a high school dropout, had no criminal record and no history of mental illness. Governor Greg Abbott said on Wednesday that Ramos had written an online message to someone minutes beforehand saying he was about to “shoot up an elementary school.”

Ramos started his rampage at home, where he shot his grandmother in the face before fleeing in a pickup truck. His grandmother, who is hospitalized in critical condition, called police.

A fourth-grader who was in the classroom told a CBS affiliate television station in San Antonio that the gunman began shooting before entering and then came in, crouched down and said, “It’s time to die.”

The boy, whom the station did not identify, said he hid under a table until police came into the classroom, setting off an exchange of gunfire.

At least 17 people were also injured, including children.

Victims’ loved ones took to social media to express anguish over the loss of children who never came home from school.

“We told her we loved her and would pick her up after school,” Kimberly Mata-Rubio posted on Facebook in a remembrance of her daughter, Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, a fourth-grade honor student. “We had no idea this was goodbye.” Read full story

Uvalde is a home to about 16,000 residents, nearly 80% of them Hispanic or Latino, according to U.S. Census data. Many members of the close-knit community personally knew some of the victims, or their families. Read full storyRead full story

(Reporting by Gabriella Borter and Brad Brooks in Uvalde, Texas; additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago, Doina Chiacu in Washington, Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico and Costas Pitas in Los Angeles; writing by Joseph Ax; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman)

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