Authorities confirmed Thursday that the gunman spent around an hour in the classroom shooting at the schoolchildren and teachers. Only then did the police enter the room and shoot the 18-year-old.
At a press conference in the community of Uvalde, Victor Escalon from the Texas Department of Public Safety announced further details about the course of the crime and spoke of a “complex situation”.
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The perpetrator killed unhindered for an hour
Attacker Salvador R.* entered the elementary school around 11:40 a.m. (local time) on Tuesday and finally entered a classroom near an entrance, he said. Police were on site within minutes because witnesses saw the armed shooter in front of the school.
But then the officials hesitated. “The police didn’t do anything,” Angeli Rose Gomez told the Wall Street Journal. She herself drove 40 miles to the primary school where her children are in second and third grade. After driving, she could see the police. ‘They just stood in front of the fence. They didn’t go in or walk anywhere.”
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Father required weapon to charge
Recently, more and more critical voices from parents in Uvalde have been raised. They accuse the police of acting too hesitantly. “I told one of the officers myself that if they don’t want to go in, lend me his gun and a vest and I’ll go in and sort it out myself,” Victor Luna told CNN.
His son Jayden survived the massacre. The police did their job, Luna said. But she could have done it faster. Other parents made similar statements in US media.
When asked why the police didn’t try to enter the classroom directly, Escalon said the officers lacked special equipment. The door was “barricaded”. The police then called for reinforcements and brought school children and teachers to safety.
She would also have tried to negotiate with the shooter. He fired most of the shots at the very beginning. “There wasn’t much shooting during the negotiations, other than trying to keep the police at bay,” Escalon said. After about an hour, special forces arrived and shot the 18-year-old.
Contradictions in police representation
There had been conflicting information from the police in the past few days about exactly how the crime took place. It was initially said that the shooter had already been confronted by a security guard in front of the school. Escalon did not confirm that.
Instead, the 18-year-old was able to walk into the school unhindered through an unlocked door. At the press conference on Thursday, the authorities came under pressure to justify themselves. “Why don’t you clarify that and explain to us how it is possible that your officers were in there for an hour (…) but no one was able to get into this room?” asked a journalist. (SDA/euc)