By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 28 May 2022 • 7:25
Criticism of Texas police response mounts as they change key details
Image: Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas
The commander in charge of the scene at the Robb Elementary School took the decision that they were now dealing with “a barricaded subject” despite a flurry of 911 calls from children trapped in the school.
That decision, which the police now have admitted was the wrong one, is what led to lack of action on their part and ultimately the death of the 19 young school children and the two teachers.
A statement read out at a press conference said: “From the benefit of hindsight, of course, it was not the right decision, it was the wrong decision.”
The timeline provided by police shows that in a four-minute halo of bullets, Salvador Ramos murdered the schoolchildren and their teachers.
Providing more information, the police said that Ramos had hinted online at what was to come. On his Instagram page he had a conversation that went as follows:
“Word on the street is that you are buying a gun.”
“I just bought something. It’s far end.”
Then came this mysterious post:
“Ten more days”.
In response, someone had replied: “You gonna shoot up the school or something?”
Ramos replied: “No, stop asking dumb questions – and you’ll see.”
The police say they found 1,657 rounds and 60 magazines at the school after the atrocity.
In their original report police said that they had confronted the assailant and have exchanged shots, however after eyewitnesses contradicted the statements the police have issued a new timeline and narrative.
The police said that it took 90 minutes between the time the shooter arrived and his being shot.
But that delay was questioned by those who witnessed the event, with video footage online showing police tackling and handcuffing anguished parents whilst the shooter was still inside.
Those videos have led to growing public anger and scrutiny of the early response, calling into question the claims by state Governor Greg Abbott, who hailed the “quick response” of “valiant local officials”.
He said they had engaged the gunman before he entered the school: “Showing amazing courage by running toward gunfire.”
But the latest timeline provided by Texas Ranger Victor Escalon, which he said would “clear up” previous statements, has just led to more questions.
In particular, people want to know why it took officers so long to arrive and why the gunman, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was inside the school for more than an hour before he was killed.
Moreover, he was not dealt with by local officers, but rather by a tactical unit led by US border agents.
Escalon said Ramos crashed his vehicle nearby at 11:28, with the first emergency call coming two minutes later as witnesses reported a man carrying a gun. Ramos then shot at members of the public, roamed the school premises, and entered freely through an unlocked door at 11:40.
Police arrived on-site four minutes later, Mr Escalon said. But it is unclear how close they got to the gunman, or whether they attempted to enter the classroom where the shooting took place.
Early police reports said that officers had made entry but left the building after coming under fire, however after criticism of the police that has been revised to say they were shot at on arrival.
At 12:45, the gunman was shot dead by a team led by an elite Border Patrol tactical unit, with the only gunfire having taken place at the beginning of the incident.
People on the scene said police were hesitant to confront the shooter, instead gathering outside the building.
Instead, parents were handcuffed, tasered and pepper sprayed as they tried to get officers to respond.
One mother, Ms Gomez, told AP: “The police were doing nothing,” saying that she jumped the school fence and ran inside to rescue her two children. ”
They [the police] were just standing outside the fence. They weren’t going in there or running anywhere.”
Others have said they did not see the police taking any action, instead they argued with us the parents. Javier Cazares, whose daughter Jacklyn was killed in the attack, told the Associated Press. “We didn’t see that.
“A lot of us were arguing with the police, ‘You all need to go in there. You all need to do your jobs’. Their response was, ‘We can’t do our jobs because you guys are interfering.'”
With more and more details emerging and criticism of Texas police growing, the belief is that more corrections to police statements will follow. With many directly blaming the police, this could end up in the courts with the police in the dock, to explain their actions on the day.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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