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Criticism of the police action during the massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde increased Thursday in this Texas town, where local authorities acknowledged that the attacker entered the building unopposed.
As solemn memorial services continued in Uvalde’s central square for the 19 children and two teachers killed in Tuesday’s shooting, authorities faced increasing questions about their response to what happened.
The impression that police acted slowly or improperly has been reinforced on social media and among some Uvalde residents, especially after authorities confirmed that the attacker spent up to an hour barricaded in a classroom before being gunned down by officers.
Several videos recorded on Tuesday are circulating on the Internet showing parents and relatives of students in the vicinity of the school shouting and confronting the police for, in their opinion, not intervening while the shooting was taking place inside.
Escalon said Thursday that, contrary to what school district sources indicated hours earlier, there was no confrontation between a security guard and the attacker, Salvador Ramos, when he entered Robb Elementary School around 11:40 a.m. Tuesday morning.
The state official also acknowledged that, apparently, the lock on one of the school’s doors was found open when Ramos arrived at the school, for reasons that are still under investigation.
One hour inside the school
After shooting his grandmother in the face at her home, Ramos got into a vehicle and drove to the vicinity of the elementary school, where his car crashed at around 11.28 am.
From there he walked with a rifle and ammunition for twelve minutes until he entered the school at around 11.40 local time. Four minutes later, police stormed the school.
While walking to the school, Ramos shot at two people who were in a funeral home across the street, without injuring them.
When local police officers arrived on the scene, they heard gunshots and identified the classroom where the assailant was located, but was unable to gain access because Ramos opened fire on them each time they tried to do so.
These agents called for reinforcements and began the evacuation of students and teachers from the rest of the school, while Ramos remained barricaded in a classroom, where he fired indiscriminately against the assistants, killing the 19 children and two teachers and wounding as many others.
It was at approximately 12:40 p.m. when Border Patrol special agents arrived and managed to shoot the shooter.
Many Uvalde neighbors didn’t understand why, even though the school district had recently doubled its security budget and trained officers to react to shootings, there wasn’t a quicker response on Tuesday.
“We need to train our police officers to be able to respond to something like this instead of waiting,” said Pastor Daniel Myers, who came Thursday to pray at Uvalde’s central plaza, where 21 crosses have been installed in honor of those killed.
Myers assured that on Tuesday he approached the school and found a hostage-taking situation, in which no one explained to the relatives what was happening until the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, went on television and announced the number of victims.
His complaint was similar to that of Ryan Ramirez, whose 10-year-old daughter Alithia was killed in the shooting, and who at a vigil Wednesday said he was quite upset that most parents found out what happened to their children around 11 p.m. Tuesday night.
Myers, who on Thursday took food to a family that had lost two children in the shooting, insisted that the authorities’ explanations, for now, are not enough.