Texas gunman drove back police with gunfire before tactical unit killed him, officials say
Officials say they are trying to learn how the deadly incident unfolded on Tuesday, to include a timeline of the response from police.
Law enforcement officers who rushed to stop a massacre inside a Texas elementary school were driven back by gunfire and turned to a Border Patrol tactical response team to breach the classroom where children and their teachers were trapped with a killer, officials said.
Authorities revealed details of the incident on Thursday amid mounting accusations that police waited too long to confront a shooter inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
"They hear gunfire, they take rounds," said Victor Escalon, a regional director for the Department of Public Safety, regarding the initial police response. "They move back, get cover, and during that time, they approached where the suspect is at."
The killer shot at them, Escalon said during a news briefing.
"They don't make entry initially because of the gunfire they're receiving," he said.
Officials are attempting to learn how the deadly incident unfolded on Tuesday, to include a timeline of the response from police.
Parents of the children enrolled at the school have expressed outrage over what they say was a slow response from police who stood outside the school while the gunman was inside. Parents said that they pleaded for at least 40 minutes for officers to enter the school where, police said, Salvador Ramos killed 19 children and two teachers.
One parent, Victor Luna, said he begged police to let him enter the school so he could tackle the shooter.
"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," Luna told CNN.
"I mean, they took a while for them to go in there," said Luna, whose son survived the attack. "So I mean this tragedy happened, like kids didn't make it out. They were doing their job, but they could have done it quicker before that man went in the school."
Police did not confront the gunman before he went into the building, Escalon said, contradicting earlier accounts.
"It was reported that a school district police officer confronted the suspect that was making entry — not accurate," Escalon said. "He walked in unobstructed initially."
The carnage began that morning when Ramos shot his grandmother at home, and then fled the scene in her vehicle, police said. Ramos crashed in a ditch, and proceeded on foot towards the school. He shot at two people outside a funeral home, and then fired several times at the school. He entered the school at around 11:30 a.m.
"So, from the grandmother's house to the car ditch to the school, into the school, he was not confronted by anybody, to clear the record on that," Escalon said. "Four minutes later, law enforcement are coming in to solve this problem."
Officials have not yet determined whether the shooter walked in through an unlocked door, Escalon said.
"We will find out as much as we can why it was unlocked — or maybe it was locked," he said. "But right now, it appears it was unlocked."
When tactical units from the Border Patrol arrived on scene, they entered the school and proceeded toward the classroom where fourth grade students were trapped alongside their classmates and teachers who had been shot.
Agents from the Border Patrol Tactical Unit, or BORTAC, directly confronted Ramos inside the classroom, officials said. It was not clear how the agents entered through the door — whether they broke it down, or waited for someone to bring them a key.
"We are still going through what happened, piecing everything together," one Border Patrol official told Just the News. The process involves interviews with witnesses and participants, and a review of camera footage and ballistics.
Uvalde has some 16,000 residents, and is situated west of San Antonio, roughly 50 miles from the U.S. border with Mexico.