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Uvalde mass shooter was not confronted by police before he entered the school, Texas official says


CNN

By Eric Levenson, Holly Yan and Joe Sutton, CNN

The 18-year-old gunman who killed 21 people at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, was not confronted by police before he entered the school, a Texas law enforcement official said Thursday, contradicting earlier comments from authorities and raising further questions about the police response to the massacre.

“He walked in unobstructed initially,” Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Regional Director Victor Escalon said. “So from the grandmother’s house, to the (ditch), to the school, into the school, he was not confronted by anybody.”

A DPS representative on Wednesday said a school resource officer had “engaged” with the suspect before he went in the school.

Escalon’s comments came in a news conference that added further confusion to the timeline of Tuesday’s horrific shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead. The massacre marked the deadliest US school shooting in nearly a decade and was at least the 30th school shooting at a K-12 school in 2022. And it has thrown the nation — where active shooter attacks jumped more than 50% last year — yet again into a fury of anger and grief amid renewed calls for gun laws reform.

LATEST UPDATES: The Texas school massacre

In his comments, Escalon said that the suspect, Salvador Ramos, shot his grandmother and then wrecked his truck in a ditch outside the school at 11:28 a.m. He exited the truck with a rifle and shot at two people across the street, Escalon said. He then approached the school and shot at the building multiple times and walked in through an apparently unlocked door at 11:40 a.m., according to Escalon.

That door is normally locked, “unless you are leaving to go home on the school bus,” former principal Ross McGlothlin told CNN’s Newsroom on Thursday.

There was no school resource officer on site or available at the time, he said. Inside, the suspect walked into a classroom and fired more than 25 times, Escalon said. The majority of the gunfire was in the beginning of the attack, he said.

Officers arrived at the school at 11:44 a.m., but when they went to confront the gunman, they received fire and took cover, Escalon said. Three law enforcement officers went in the same door the shooter used to enter the school and four went through another school entrance, DPS spokesperson Chris Olivarez told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

Officers called for more resources and personnel, evacuated students and teachers in other parts of the school, and at some point entered “negotiations” with the suspect, Escalon said. After about an hour, a US Border Patrol tactical team came to the classroom, forced entry and fatally shot the suspect, he said.

Olivarez said officers saved lives despite waiting before physically confronting the suspect.

“At that point, they had the suspect contained inside the classroom,” he told CNN. “If those officers weren’t there, if they did not maintain their presence, there is a good chance that gunman could have made it to other classrooms and commit more killings.”

The news conference underscored the confusion and disorganization of the police response and failed to answer questions as to how the gunman was able to remain inside the classroom for such a long time.

Uvalde Police Chief Daniel Rodriguez issued a statement Thursday defending his officers’ response to the shooting. Two responding officers were shot by the suspect but are expected to survive.

“It is important for our community to know that our officers responded within minutes” alongside school resource officers, he said.

Olivarez said Thursday morning the suspect had barricaded himself in the classroom, which was attached to an adjoining room. All of the 21 killed and 17 injured were inside those classrooms, officials have said.

“We’re still trying to establish if that classroom was locked, and if it was locked, was there some type of barricade, was there some type of locking mechanism that did not allow those officers to make entry,” he said.

Since the Columbine school shooting of 1999, emergency responder protocol in such situations is to end the threat as quickly as possible because fatalities occur in seconds to minutes.

“It’s almost incomprehensible for me to come up with a rational explanation as to why you would wait 30 minutes to an hour to get in there,” Andrew McCabe, CNN senior law enforcement analyst, said before the news conference. “The door breaching, if it’s just a locked door, that doesn’t take 30 minutes to get into.”

What happened outside the school

US Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz said about 80 to 100 agents responded to the shooting.

“They didn’t hesitate. They came up with a plan. They entered that classroom and they took care of the situation as quickly as they possibly could,” Ortiz said.

The lengthy response time, as well as a lack of communication to the public, created a chaotic situation outside the school as parents arrived, desperate to know if their kids were still alive. One father said he asked a law enforcement officer for gear.

“I told one of the officers myself, if they didn’t want to go in there, let me borrow his gun and a vest and I’ll go in there myself to handle it, and they told me no,” the father told CNN’s Jason Carroll. His son survived.

What happened inside the classrooms

Victims’ family members and first responders offered first descriptions of some of the horrors inside the classrooms.

Angel Garza, a first responder and father of 10-year-old Amerie Jo Garza, arrived at the school Tuesday and gave medical aid to a girl covered head-to-toe in blood. The girl said she’d seen her best friend killed — and the best friend’s name was Amerie.

“How are you going to look at this girl and shoot her?” Garza told CNN on Wednesday. “My baby, how do you shoot my baby?”

Amerie had just gotten a cell phone two weeks ago for her 10th birthday, he said. He learned from two other students that Amerie had tried to call 911 during the shooting.

“She just died trying to save her classmates,” Garza said. “She just wanted to save everyone.”

Chief Jason Owens, who heads the Del Rio sector for Border Patrol, told CNN that the uniforms of the agents who responded to the scene were “covered in blood.”

“I took my agents back to the Uvalde station. I had to bring new uniforms for them to change into,” he said.

School district spent over $450,000 on security

The Uvalde school district had a safety plan that included its own police force, social media monitoring and a threat reporting system to “provide a safe and secure environment” for students.

The two-page document on the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District website lists 21 different measures it says it has undertaken for the safety of the school community, ranging from an app for reporting bullying to physical security measures like fencing and a buzz-in door system. It’s not clear to what degree the plan was developed with active shooters in mind.

Records show the district spent about $200,000 on security and monitoring services in 2017-18 and that figure rose to more than $450,000 in the 2019-20 school year.

The district employed four police officers, including a chief, detective, and two officers. The district also had additional security staff “who patrol door entrances, parking lots and perimeters of the campuses.”

The plan included a “threat reporting system” for “students, parents, staff, and community members” to share information that is deemed “troubling,” which could include information “about weapons, threats, fights, drugs, self-harm, suicide or disclosures made that are concerning.” The policy states reports could be made through the district site or to a district staff member.

The security plan also refers to lockdown drills. “Students receive training on the Standard Response Protocol for lockout, lockdown, evacuate, shelter, and hold. In addition, drills are held for each of these emergency actions on a regular basis.”

Two other schools, Uvalde High School and Anthon Elementary, have security vestibules, though it is not clear whether Robb had one.

Families identify loved ones they lost

The two teachers who were killed, Eva Mireles and Irma Garcia, had co-taught together for five years.

Garcia, a wife and mother to four children, was “sweet, kind, loving,” according to a GoFundMe campaign set up to raise funds for funeral expenses and family needs. “She sacrificed herself protecting the kids in her classroom. She was a hero. She was loved by many and will truly be missed,” the campaign said.

Mireles had been teaching for 17 years and “was a vivacious soul” who “spread laughter and joy everywhere she went,” relative Amber Ybarra told CNN.

“She made you feel like she was only teaching your child,” said Erica Torres, whose son Stanley was in her third and fourth grade classes. “Like, there’s no other students but him. She made you feel so good.”

José Flores Jr., 10, was also killed in the shooting, his father José Flores Sr. told CNN. He was his mother’s “little shadow,” she said. José Jr. was bursting with energy and loved to play baseball and video games, his father said.

Lexi Rubio, 10, had made the All-A honor roll and gotten a good citizen award just hours before she was shot and killed, her parents Felix and Kimberly Rubio told CNN.

“We told her we loved her and would pick her up after school. We had no idea this was goodbye,” Kimberly Rubio wrote in a post on Facebook.

Nine-year-old Eliana “Ellie” Garcia, was among those killed, family members confirmed to CNN affiliate KHOU. She loved the movie “Encanto,” cheerleading and basketball and dreamed of becoming a teacher, her grandparents, Rogelio Lugo and Nelda Lugo, told the LA Times.

Third-grader Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10, and her cousin died Tuesday, her family members confirmed to CNN affiliate KHOU. The cousin’s name has not been released.

Shooter was a loner who bought two rifles a week earlier

The gunman, Ramos, was a local high school dropout with no criminal history and no known mental health history, officials said. He had just turned 18 and legally bought two AR-15-style rifles and ammunition for his birthday. Those who knew him described him as a loner with few, if any, friends, who was often in fights.

Before he began his rampage, Ramos allegedly messaged a girl who lives in Germany about his intentions.

He complained his grandmother was “on the phone with AT&T abojt (sic) my phone,” according to screenshots reviewed by CNN and an interview with the 15-year-old girl, whose mother gave permission for her to be interviewed.

“It’s annoying,” he texted her.

Minutes later, he texted: “I just shot my grandma in her head,” immediately followed by the message, “Ima go shoot up a(n) elementary school rn (right now).”

The shooter shot his 66-year-old grandmother in the face before driving to Robb Elementary, where he crashed his car in a nearby ditch, authorities say. The grandmother was in serious condition as of Wednesday, officials said.

The gunman’s maternal grandfather told CNN he knows many of the families affected by the massacre.

“Some of them are my friends, and I’m going to have to face them some day,” Rolando Reyes said in Spanish.

He said his wife “did everything for (the shooter),” including cooking for him and picking him up from late work shifts at a fast food restaurant, and he does not understand why the 18-year-old would lash out at her.

Reyes said a bullet pierced his wife’s jaw and upper cheek and she will need significant reconstructive surgery. She is at a hospital in San Antonio.

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CNN’s Alexa Miranda, Monica Serrano, Dakin Andone, Steve Almasy, Peter Nickeas, Tina Burnside, Jamiel Lynch, Andy Rose, Elizabeth Joseph, Sara Smart, Amanda Jackson, Caroll Alvarado, Isabelle Chapman, Daniel A. Medina, Curt Devine, Priscilla Alvarez, Elizabeth Wolfe, Jennifer Henderson and Gregory Krieg contributed to this report.

CNN

Comments

78 Comments

      1. The massacre was committed by a long gun, constitutional, licensed or open carrying a pistol has zero to do with it. And NY is not controlled by republicans and have one of the strictest gun laws in place. That did not seem to stop the guy in Buffalo.

        1. My point here is a) this shooting occurred in Texas, which last I checked republicans are solidly in control, so what do democrats have to do with police in schools in Texas?
          b) the right wing solution is more guns, even making it easier to buy and carry. So why didn’t a good guy with a gun stop this bad guy with a gun?
          But let’s not focus on the issue of how easy it is for teenagers to buy AR15s…👉 pew pew.

            1. – the locked land loaded good guy – as common as hens teeth, but damn… the mythology is epic – how do y’all continue to believe such stories you tell each other when, statistically speaking, there is zero evidence that such a thing has ever existed, and likely never will?

                1. The NRA is having a big get-together, and they’re NOT allowing guns in there. It will be a gun-free zone. Even the NRA gets it.

          1. What is actually sad is the police were too damn scared for their own lives to protect the children.
            Isn’t this always about the children?
            Cops lives matter less than the children they are paid to protect, far less as they have chosen the role.
            They were worried about death but even more about killing a protected class individual with any doubts in the case at all. That is a fate worse than death.

        2. – when y’all get into your endless nandering about gun this and gun that, and bla, bla, bla details – do you really think any of the dead really care? – y’all have promoted what has become a society awash in guns and conditions for all this carnage to continue – keep entertaining each other with the gun porn blather and the kids keep dying

    1. – yup – who should we thank for 18 year olds having free access to combat weapons? – please tell us Bob – your attempted exploitation of murdered children for your cheap, petty, grotesque “political” indulgences is so incredibly vulgar

      1. Who should we thank for 18 year olds wanting to kill lots of people in the first place? Are you sure this is really about guns? What do you think would have happened if instead of wrecking his truck, Ramos showed up as school let out and drove his truck through dozens of kids standing in bus lines? Remember, a mass murderer in Nice, France didn’t need a gun to kill 87 people and injure 458 others with a truck in 2016, which greatly exceeds the toll of any single mass shooting that I’m aware of. This tunnel vision on guns and baseless polarizing attacks on law-abiding gun owners need to stop. Nobody should be surprised that after such attacks, gun owners don’t want to play nice. The focus of all who care about this needs to be on why and how people become capable of such atrocities and ways to prevent it and to find ways to get better at early detection of red flags followed by intervention.

            1. Radical Democrats: We demand healthcare! We want clean air & water! We want cops to stop killing people of color so often. Gays should have the right to get married!! We want college loan forgiveness! We support the Woman’s right to Choose! We want universal background checks and 2 day waiting period before purchasing a gun! We think everyone should be able to vote by mail! We want to eliminate the Electoral College! We think weed should be legal anywhere in America!!!

              MAGA: More guns!!! No training or background checks! Her e-mails! His laptop! Let’s go Brandon! No masks, my body my choice! No choice for women! No assistance for poor children! CRT! Antifa!!! Ivermectin!! Drill baby Drill! Burn the books! Hang Mike Pence!! Oh look it’s snowing, so much for global warming! I have no answers for anything other than it’s all the Democrat’s fault!!!!!!!

              1. Demokrats… Lockdowns- Shutdowns- Meltdowns- Media Control- Hunter Biden- Corruption- Coups- James Comey- Russia-Russia-Russia- BLM- Trayvon Martin- “You didn’t build that”- “Get the vaccine- you won’t get the virus”… we will bankrupt you (inflation- fuel prices- recession) and put you on our plantations of dependency- to hell with the US constitution ! Sums it up about right !

                1. It was republican Trump who was in control of all the shutdowns and lockdowns, and his daily attendance at the covid briefings were ‘media control’ at its finest. Anything else, Boomer?

      2. Nowhere in the world is an AR15 a combat weapon, nor is it military grade, as no military in the world uses a semi automatic

        1. It’s a combat weapon right here in America. It’s so scary that an untrained 18 year old had one in an elementary school and a whole squad of highly trained, heavily armed/armored bad-ass police couldn’t gather the nerve to confront him for an entire HOUR, after he’d shot every child and teacher in a 4th grade class.

          The only person who will stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. There were no good guys to be found, unfortunately.

          1. How’d he get into that elementary school ? Where did he get the money for such a weapon ?? How was the family so disconnected to his mental state- was it the covid lockdowns ??? Many questions yet unanswered while you all point your angry fingers and make false accusations all over the place.

          2. He bought it legally after background checks failed to find he wanted to shoot up a school 4 years ago and said so.
            Mental health is the problem, not guns.
            Mental health in this nation is handled by drugs. Crappy drugs like covid “vaccines” that don’t work but let drug companies make billions.

          1. Not at all. What we are fed up with are people like Kate brown closing the mental institutions, and her supporters like you. The flags for this guy were there and they were ignored

    1. The police are not good guys with guns.
      They are the United States Department of Violence.
      They’re a state-run street gang.
      They couldn’t care less about anyone but themselves.

  1. As time passes, more information and more questions come out. The more we learn, the better the solutions. The problem is, we seem to forget what didn’t work and continue to run with the failed/failures. One of the biggest failures are “Gun Free Zone” laws. The only time they work, is when there is metal detectors and armed LEO’s standing right there enforcing them (i.e. court house) and even then, they sometimes fail. What is proven to provide safety in our schools is the way Israel protects schools, but for some reason, that option isn’t allowed or acceptable in the US.

    1. Took your up your suggestion and looked up school security in Israel which I found out is focused more on terrorist than school shooters. But this was the most interesting think I found.
      ” What Security in Israel Is Really Like
      There are a lot of ideas in the United States of what Israel is like. For example, I’d always heard that Israel is an armed society, and virtually everyone routinely carries a weapon. I learned quickly from one of our guides that although the private ownership of firearms in Israel is not forbidden, those not employed in public safety, security or in the military must show a legitimate need to possess a firearm and must have a permit. Examples include being a civilian, yet being a target of a specific credible threat, such as a retired member of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) or police officer, or a person serving as a reservist. With 20% of Israel’s budget going to defense and security, and 80% of the nation’s defense force being reservists, one can comfortably calculate that a significant portion of the public owns a firearm but don’t routinely carry one.” Note few private guns being carried.
      https://www.campussafetymagazine.com/safety/the-israeli-approach-to-school-security/

      Also if schools are harden the next soft target could be schools busses, so do we then send our kids to school in a M113?

      1. Pf-f-f-f-f-t-t-t-t!!! Home school your kids then! YOU and only YOU are responsible for the safety and protection of your kids! The schools aren’t, I’m not, the police aren’t, and the government isn’t!

      2. You’re right, Israel’s school safety and protection is geared toward terrorists . . . but do you really want to nitpick the difference between a terrorist shooting up a school and a non-terrorist shooting up a school?

    2. – wow – that’s a whole lot of words to try to distract from several key aspects of the official report already proven to be completely fraudulent – maybe folks like y’all will waver from what you do until some 9 year old you actually care about is gunned down – maybe not even then

  2. There’s a lot of splaining to do about the failures in this schools security plan and the people charged with implementing it. Why the city police hurried to the scene then stood around with their thumb up their backsides. Why the school had a ‘buzz in’ security entry system whereby someone must physically clear you and allow you entry that failed. The shooter was wearing tactical gear carrying an AR-15. Not someone you’d typically buzz in to a locked school school entrance, even in Texas. Where were the 4 officers employed by the school district? If there were supposed to be a school Resource Officer, where were they? KUDOS to the Border Patrol officers!

      1. Gee I dunno- in 2020 more than 56,000 deaths were attributed to meth (alone) in the US- that doesn’t include heroin- crack- or other drugs that Oregon decriminalized… guns were no-where near these numbers.

  3. One big irritation between this guy and the one before was they – the media – made sure everyone knew that guy was a white guy but had zero hype about this guy’s ethnicity. Why the big difference between the reporting of the “race” between the two guys?

      1. Now you’ve gone and done it as barney will defend cnn asking for proof about them being biased and it’s a honor to defend them from nitwits like us.

      2. – when one of those cool white nationalists tells the world that he is, and proceeds to put great effort into killing people he deems “other” and unworthy, compared to his superior race, and you go on your hissy fit about “progressives” – do you have any idea how ridiculously, transparently asinine your presentation of self is?

    1. – first of all, you are not any type of native – second of all this shooter’s identity was hidden from no one, not even a super sleuth like you – third, the shooter in buffalo was a self proclaimed white nationalist racist – don’t try to blame the media, or anyone else for what he announced to the world and quit trying to pretend that you are being discriminated against you pale, privileged non-native

      1. Hey tizze, Still bugs you about the nic I see, here you go from Merriam – Webster and pay attention to items 1 and 3:

        native – noun

        Definition of native (Entry 2 of 2)
        1: one born or reared in a particular place
        2a: an original or indigenous inhabitant
        b: something indigenous to a particular locality
        3: a local resident especially: a person who has always lived in a place as distinguished from a visitor or a temporary resident

    2. Well the white shooter in Buffalo specifically targeted a prominently black neighborhood to kill people of color. He believed the great replacement theory heavily pushed by Fox & 4chan and left manifesto summarizing his distain for people of color and jews. So maybe that had a little something to do with it? 🤷🏿‍♂️

  4. So…we need cops at all the schools, grocery stores, and where else? Hospitals? Movie theaters? Pretty much everywhere? Is that the solution?

        1. Police waited for over an hour to take this guy out… one armed teacher in that classroom woulda done the job in seconds. I can think of many rural counties out this way- where this would never happen- the barrage and hail of bullets in defense would make a night fight in Nam look like a candle vigil !

      1. Hard to say- because there were so many safety elements in place that were simply violated- that’s where we begin… where were the door monitors ? Why were those front doors unlocked ?? Why did the security officer on site tell this gunman a few days earlier- his daily routine ???

  5. You better arm yourselves. God forbid some a**hat does this in your neighborhood, the police will likely sit back and watch because it’s not their own kids. They have their own to worry about. On the other hand, parents crazed by the aspect of losing their own would obviously risk it all. This is a no brainer. Dems are taking the wrong approach.

  6. As is obvious, we are not going to get control over who has/or does not have a gun. So let’s stop trying and failing with that issue. All schools in the future must have prison walls around them.
    Sounds dramatic, but it will keep the bad guys away from our babies! Let’s do what it takes to protect them. The gun laws aren’t working so Plan B should be surround these kids/teachers with thick walls and throw in a little serpentine wire on the top. Also armed guards at the one and only entrance. Bad guys can’t just stroll in, and sweet souls live another day.

      1. 113’s are good for shrapnel, but not so good for AP rounds, which are easy to find on store shelves. There are other available, better solutions. (Note: I know SOME of them, but I’m not paid to teach you or any person with evil intent how to do it!)

      1. According to SCOTUS in their decision of DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services and reaffirmed in Castle Rock v. Gonzales, YOU are responsible for the protection and safety of yourself, your loved ones, and your property. Contrary to popular belief, law enforcement IS NOT responsible for the safety or protection of anyone, but themselves. “The Court went on to reaffirm the DeShaney ruling that there is no affirmative right to aid by the government or the police found in the U.S. Constitution, and thus no legal recourse could be brought thereunder. [16] The “no duty to protect” rule remains unwavering and the law today.” “Though alarming, we simply have no affirmative right to police aid, even when a person, including a helpless child, faces imminent danger. We are all responsible for our own personal safety, whether we like it or not.”

  7. The solution is simple . . . read my response to Bubble Wrap! Whether you agree or disagree, the fact is and has been ruled on and affirmed by SCOTUS . . . YOU and only YOU are responsible for the safety and protection of yourself, your loved ones, and your property. We can argue all day long about how to do it, but it comes down to the fact of how YOU want to do it and how much YOU want to spend. Personally, I have no problem standing guard while armed, to watch over my Grandchildren, at a properly secured school and/or bus. I also have no problem watching over the kids and Grandkids of others, to protect them at the same time I’m protecting my loved ones. What do YOU choose? If you vote to ban firearms (or me) from the school property, YOU assume responsibility for my loved ones! And if they are harmed under your decision to disarm me or ban me from school property, I’ll see you in court! (This isn’t a threat Barney . . . it’s going to become a fact of life, once people realize and understand SCOTUS’s decision.)

    1. You want to force everyone else to have to stand guard with a gun while their kid is going to or coming from school, which you want to be a high security prison. Got it.

  8. Barney – In the comments of the previous story, you asked to a non-judgmental discussion on the issue. I’m going to put this out to everyone to comment, as the “who to blame” is squarely and succinctly decided by SCOTUS. “Though alarming, we simply have no affirmative right to police aid, even when a person, including a helpless child, faces imminent danger. We are all responsible for our own personal safety, whether we like it or not.” The school can be sued for the loss of life by the parent (common outcome today), but the school can not be sued for the failure of safety or the protection of the children. The shooter and the family of the shooter can also be sued, but once again, the school and the police are not responsible for the safety and/or protection of the children. The discussion now comes down to the 2nd Amendment and the right to own firearms and what are the parents/family willing to pay/do to protect their loved ones.

  9. As an after thought . . . I suppose the parents could demand the school district provide a signed, dated, and witnessed contract to each parent assuming responsibility for the safety and protection of each student . . . to/from and while on school property. (I just don’t see any school district stupid enough to enter into a contract like that.)

  10. Most of the coverage has focused on the authorities not breaking into the classroom. Once the shooter was inside the classroom, it was game over. He had the tactical advantage of closed doors and hostages. I’m not sure why more attention is not focused on the 12 minutes that he was in front of the school, fully armed, in plain sight, already having committed several crimes (shooting his grandmother, crashing his car, shooting at bystanders, etc.). It was a small town; how long would it take one or two cops to race over there and confront him? 2 minutes 3? I’m sure there will be LE explanations for that delay, but that is where the fatal error was made.

  11. Y’all must be so proud to share the same belief systems and love if gun culture as mass murderers and psychopaths. Be proud “patriotic conservatives” you guys share so many values with the worst of our society

  12. If you are angry and emotional you should be, but not at the things they want you to be. Their plan is working. Research CIA’s project Orion and MKUltra. These are real. Then look up CIA project Mockingbird. Connect the dots people. Those “woke” are the most asleep. Wake up.

  13. Open question:
    What types of armed security is in place at various schools in CO public and private?
    I’ve seen city cop cars at MVHS and BHS. Is that still occurring as constant presence?

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