An official has given a bizarre justification as to why police were slow to act when a gunman entered a primary school in Texas and opened fire, saying "they could've been shot".
On Tuesday, a gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde and killed 19 students and two teachers, marking the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook.
Before heading to the school the alleged gunman, Salvador Ramos, shot his grandmother in the face. He then crashed his car near the school at 11.28am and shot at people outside a nearby funeral home.
Police said on Thursday there were no officers at the scene, contradicting previous reports that police were engaged with the shooter before he entered the school.
Ramos walked into the school at around 11:40am on Tuesday morning, and while local police were aware of the situation within minutes, the suspect was not apprehended until Border Force officers arrived at 12.45pm – more than an hour later.
Speaking to CNN, Lieutenant Chris Olivarez said police were quick to call for backup while at the scene, however, host Wolf Blitzer questioned whether the police followed best practices.
“Don’t current best practices, Lieutenant, call for officers to disable a shooter as quickly as possible, regardless of how many officers are actually on-site?” Blitzer asked.
Lt Olivarez said that was correct and in an active shooter situation the main goal is to preserve life.
He added that officers were making their way into the school's building unaware of where Ramos was at the time and then justified why officers did not attempt to apprehend the shooter.
"If they proceeded any further not knowing where the suspect was at, they could have been shot. they could have been killed," he said.
"And at that point, that gunman would have an opportunity to kill other people inside that school.
"So they were able to contain that gunman inside that classroom so that he was unable to go to any other portions of the school to commit any of the killings."
On Thursday, Victor Escalon, regional director for the Texas Department of Public Safety said the first police officers did not arrive on the scene until 12 minutes after Ramos crashed his car.
He said officers did not enter the school to pursue the shooter until four minutes after that. Inside, they were driven back by gunfire from Ramos and took cover.
"They could've been shot. They could've been killed," Texas police lieutenant explains why law enforcement did not go into Uvalde school right away. pic.twitter.com/lfzTtAQqFg
— Virginia Kruta (@VAKruta) May 27, 2022
Bystanders urged police to act
In the hour after Ramos entered the school up until he was killed by a Border Force agent, one parent Angeli Rose Gomez was handcuffed by a US Marshal.
She was later freed, the Daily Beast reported, and she was able to go into the school and grab her children.
“The police were doing nothing,” Ms Gomez told the Journal.
“They were just standing outside the fence. They weren’t going in there or running anywhere.”
Frustrated onlookers urged police officers to go into the school as Ramos slaughtered the 19 children and two teachers, the Associated Press reported.
Juan Carranza, 24, saw the scene unfold from his home which is opposite the school. He witnessed women yelling at officers to go into the school.
Mr Carranza said the officers did not go in.
“They say they rushed in,” said Javier Cazares, whose fourth-grade daughter, Jacklyn Cazares, was killed in the attack, and who raced to the school as the massacre unfolded.
“We didn’t see that.”
With Associated Press
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