Update: It was announced Thursday that authorities will now examine the response of police, investigating what steps were taken to stop the gunman and analyzing ballistics.
Just after tweeting that he and his wife were “fervently lifting up in prayer” the community of Uvalde, Texas, in the immediate wake of Tuesday’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told MSNBC that gun control wasn’t necessary to combat gun violence and that in the future, more armed officers should be stationed at schools. “We know from past experience that the most effective tool for keeping kids safe is armed law enforcement on the campus,” Cruz said.
However, multiple new videos and eye-witness accounts from the scene of the entirely preventable tragedy—which claimed the lives of 21 people—have revealed that several armed officers were on the scene and, in fact, did nothing to stop the 18-year-old shooter, Salvador Ramos.
Not only does the Uvalde City School District have its own police department— staffed with a chief, five officers, and a security guard—but additional law enforcement called to the scene (including Border Patrol Agents, who ultimately killed Ramos) are shown to have stood idle in the parking lot outside of school as Ramos gunned down 19 children and two teachers in a barricaded classroom. Parents’ and bystanders’ desperate pleas can be heard on the videos, which were spliced from the livestream of an eyewitness, Hugo Cervantes.
“What are you doing—get inside the building!” one person screamed at cops in one of the clips, as another can be heard yelling, “Go protect the kids!”
One victim’s father, Javier Cazares, was one of the frantic parents on the scene, as his daughter Jacklyn, was trapped in the classroom with the shooter. He told the press that upon hearing gunfire, he actually suggested rushing into the school to others at the scene, as the cops clearly weren’t doing anything. Cazares told NPR the police were clearly “unprepared.”
Another clip, which shows several parents trying to surpass police lines in an attempt to enter the school, even reveals a woman on the ground who appears to be pinned by an officer. A witness can be heard saying, “What the f–k are you doing to her? Let her go!”
Juan Carranza, another eyewitness who lives across the street from the school, said he not only saw Ramos crash his car before entering the school, but also noted that police didn’t enter the building as multiple people in the parking lot begged them to do something.
In the immediate reports following the mass shooting in Uvalde, law enforcement pushed a significantly more flattering narrative. After Ramos crashed his truck near the school, he reportedly injured two people near the car after firing at them before entering the school. The Texas Department of Public Safety said Ramos fired on two Uvalde police officers who were outside Robb Elementary, injuring them as well. There’s since been conflicting reports as to when law enforcement arrived and how soon Ramos started firing in the school.
However, US Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz told CNN that dozens of on-duty and off-duty officers responded to the shooting and “didn’t hesitate.” Steven McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told a news conference on Wednesday: “The bottom line is law enforcement was there. They did engage immediately. They did contain [Ramos] in the classroom.” Yet McGraw also told the press that the gunman was on site for an estimated 40 minutes to an hour before law enforcement were able to “contain” him. Later, a department spokesman contradicted McGraw, saying that a solid estimate of how long the gunman was in the school or when he was killed could not be given. A news clip circulating on Twitter also shows an officer telling a local reporter that some officers allegedly entered the school prior to Ramos’ containment to remove their own children.
Even more disturbingly, according to an anonymous law enforcement official, Border Patrol agents couldn’t immediately breach the classroom door. Ultimately, a staff member had to open the room with a key—meaning an inordinate amount of time passed as Ramos barricaded himself in the fourth-grade classroom. Law enforcement officials also claimed Ramos was wearing “body armor” during the attack, though it’s since been confirmed it was only a tactical vest.
Despite the emergence of more horrifying details, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has insisted that things “could have been worse” if not for law enforcement’s involvement. The parents of victims, like Cazares, are begging to differ.