27th May, 2022
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has apologised over spreading false information about Tuesday’s mass killing in Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.
The apology comes after Texas DPS officials provided a new timeline of events on the suspect and responding officers’ actions and admitted that the officers made the wrong decision on not entering Robb Elementary School sooner.
Abbott, contrite said he was initially misinformed and “misled” about the tragic event.
“I am livid about what happened. I was on this very stage two days ago and I was telling the public information that had been told to me in a room just a few yards behind where we’re located right now,” Abbott said.
“I wrote down hand notes in detail about what everybody in that room told me in sequential order, about what happened, and when I came out here on this stage and told the public what happened, it was a recitation of what people in that room told me, whether it was law enforcement officials or non-law enforcement officials, whatever the case may be.”
The day after the devastating tragedy, Abbott addressed the public and said law enforcement officials showed amazing courage when responding to the shooting “by running toward gunfire for the singular purpose of trying to save lives.”
“And it is a fact that because of their quick response, getting on the scene, being able to respond to the gunman and eliminate the gunman, they were able to save lives,” Abbott said Wednesday.
But Texas DPS officials have confirmed that was not the case.
Although officers responded to the scene quickly after receiving the initial 911 call, it took them over an hour to engage the gunman who locked himself inside a classroom full of fourth-graders.
According to Reuters, frantic children called 911 at least half a dozen times from the Texas classrooms where the massacre was unfolding, pleading for police to intervene.
As the children sent distressed notes, some 20 officers waited in the hallway nearly an hour before entering and killing the gunman, authorities said on Friday.
At least two children placed emergency 911 calls from a pair of adjoining fourth-grade classrooms after 18-year-old Salvador Ramos entered on Tuesday with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, according to Colonel Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Ramos, who had driven to Robb Elementary School from his home after shooting and wounding his grandmother there, went on to kill 19 children and two teachers in the deadliest U.S. school shooting in nearly a decade.
“He’s in room 112,” a girl whispered on the phone at 12:03 p.m., more than 45 minutes before a U.S. Border Patrol-led tactical team finally stormed in and ended the siege.
The on-site commander, the chief of the school district’s police department in Uvalde, Texas, believed at the time that Ramos was barricaded inside and that children were no longer at immediate risk, giving police time to prepare, McCraw said.
“From the benefit of hindsight where I’m sitting now, of course, it was not the right decision,” McCraw said. “It was the wrong decision.”
McGraw, whose voice choked with emotion at times, added, “We’re here to report the facts, not to defend what was done or the actions taken.” It was unclear whether officers at the scene were aware of the calls, McCraw said.
Some of the mostly 9- and 10-year-old students trapped with the gunman survived the massacre, including at least two who called 911, McCraw said, though he did not offer a specific tally.
There were at least eight calls from the classrooms to 911 between 12:03 p.m., a half hour after Ramos first entered the building, and 12:50 p.m., when Border Patrol agents and police burst in and shot Ramos dead.
A girl whom McCraw did not identify called at 12:16 p.m. and told police that there were still “eight to nine” students alive, the colonel said. Three shots were heard during a call made at 12:21 p.m.
The same girl who made the first call implored the operator to “please send the police now” at 12:43 p.m. and 12:47 p.m.
Officers went in three minutes after that final call, according to McCraw, when the tactical team used a janitor’s key to open the locked classroom door.
Several officers had an initial exchange of gunfire with Ramos shortly after he entered the school at 11:33 a.m., when two officers were grazed by bullets and took cover. There were as many as 19 officers in the hallway by 12:03 p.m., McCraw said – when the first 911 call from inside the classroom was received.
Videos that emerged on Thursday showed anguished parents outside the school, urging police to storm the building during the attack, with some having to be restrained by police.
Standard law enforcement protocols call for police to confront an active school shooter without delay, rather than waiting for backup or more firepower, a point McCraw acknowledged on Friday.
McCraw described other moments when Ramos might have been thwarted. A school officer, responding to calls about an armed man who crashed a car at the funeral home across the street, drove right past Ramos as he crouched beside a vehicle on school property.
Police have said Ramos fired at two people standing outside the funeral home before scaling a fence onto school grounds.
The door that gave Ramos access to the building had been left propped open by a teacher, McCraw said.