Texas gunman gains unimpeded access to school before killing 21

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© Reuters. Stephanie and Michael Chavez of San Antonio pay their respects at a makeshift memorial outside Rob Elementary School, the site of the mass shooting in Uwald, Texas, U.S., May 25, 2022.REUTERS/Nuriwal Bona

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Brad Brooks and Gabriella Bot

Uwald, Texas (Reuters) – The gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers walked across the grounds of a Texas elementary school without encountering anyone and entered through an unlocked door, authorities said on Thursday. Building, providing another new description of the previous event. massacre.

Police confirmed that Salvador Ramos, 18, was cordoned off in a classroom at Rob Elementary School for an hour before a tactical team eventually broke into the classroom and shot him dead. Parents outside begged police to storm the building.

The Uvalde School District has a policy of locking classroom doors as a safety measure. The latest details from officials contradict some earlier statements and raise new 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 11.28am (1628GMT) on Tuesday, fired several shots at two bystanders across the street, and at 11.40am (1628GMT) 1640 GMT) into the school, Victor Escalon, the Texas Department of Public Safety said in a news release.

Four minutes later, two officers who responded entered the school but ducked after Ramos fired multiple shots at them, Escalon said. He locked himself in a fourth-grade classroom and shot the victims, most of them 9- and 10-year-olds, in the deadliest school shooting in America in nearly a decade.

Asked whether police should have intervened sooner, Escalon said, “It’s a tough question,” adding that authorities would provide more information as the investigation unfolded. He described the chaos that followed the initial exchange of fire, with officers calling for support and evacuating students and staff.

The new detailed description comes hours after video emerged showing desperate parents outside the school begging police to storm the building during the attack, with some fathers having to be restrained.

In a video posted on Facebook by a man named Angel Ledezma (Nasdaq: ), parents can be seen breaking through yellow police tape and yelling at officers to let them into the building.

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

Another video posted on YouTube showed police restraining at least one adult. A woman can be heard saying: “Why let the children die? There were gunshots.”

“We let the guys go in and pick up the kids,” one officer told the crowd. “They’re working.”

Escalon told reporters there were no armed police at the school. Escalon said the gunman fired more than 25 shots at the start of the attack, mostly by him.

The massacre is the latest in a years-long mass shooting that has reignited a national debate over the country’s gun laws. Despite opposition from Republicans, President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats have vowed to push for new restrictions.

‘didn’t know it was goodbye’

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

Ramos began his rampage at the home, where he shot his grandmother in the face before fleeing in a pickup truck. His grandmother was in critical condition in the hospital and called the police.

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

The police department, who has not identified the boy, said he hid under a desk until officers entered the classroom, sparking an exchange of fire.

At least 17 people were injured, including children.

Relatives of the victims took to social media to express their grief over the loss of their children returning home from school.

“We told her we loved her and would be picking her up after school,” Kimberly Matta-Rubio posted on Facebook in memory of her daughter, Alexandria Arnia Rubio, a fourth-grade honor student. “We didn’t know it was a goodbye.”

Uwald has about 16,000 residents, nearly 80 percent of whom are Hispanic or Latino, according to U.S. Census data. Many members of the tight-knit community knew some of the victims or their families personally.

(This story was resubmitted to fix the typo in the first paragraph)

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