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What did law enforcement do at Texas school shooting?

Angel wings representing the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School are seen on the windows of a local business in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. Picture: Reuters/Veronica G. Cardenas

Angel wings representing the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School are seen on the windows of a local business in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. Picture: Reuters/Veronica G. Cardenas

Published May 28, 2022

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Texas public safety officials on Friday said an incident commander in charge of police response at the May 24 school massacre made "the wrong decision" in deciding to stop treating a gunman who locked himself in adjoining classrooms with children as an active shooter and instead view him as a barricaded subject as his shots became less frequent.

The gunman was in the classrooms for more than an hour before officers entered and killed him, according to an account released Friday during a news conference outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde. Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven C. McCraw revised authorities' timeline of the shooting once again and said children called 911 from the classrooms as officers gathered in the hallway outside.

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McCraw's account -- combined with video, interviews and emergency line audio -- show how police responded as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos killed 19 children and two teachers.

1. Late morning: Ramos's grandmother calls police after he shoots her

Ramos's 66-year-old grandmother was able to call police after Ramos shot her at her home not far from Robb Elementary and departed in her truck, according to an account Wednesday from Gov. Greg Abbott, R. Authorities have not released the exact timing or content of her 911 call.

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2. 11:27 a.m.: An open school door

Video shows that a teacher propped open an "exterior door" near the school's parking lot, according to McCraw, who said the teacher was retrieving a cellphone. The door remained opened, he said.

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3. 11:28 a.m.: Ramos crashes, prompting 911 call and soon starts shooting

Ramos crashed his grandmother's truck into a ditch near Robb Elementary at 11:28 a.m., state public safety officials said. Two witnesses heard the crash and approached the truck, officials said, and Ramos shot at them.

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A witness called 911 to report the crash and a man with a gun, McCraw said.

Ramos went to Robb Elementary on foot and fired a barrage outside the school just after 11:30 a.m., McCraw said.

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4. 11:33 a.m.: Gunman enters school unchallenged, officials say, and shoots into classroom

Ramos entered the school through the open exterior door and immediately started shooting into either Room 111 or Room 112 -- adjoining classrooms connected with an internal Jack-and-Jill style bathroom, McCraw said. Ramos fired more than 100 rounds "at that time," he said.

McCraw said that "hundreds of rounds were pumped in in four minutes, into those classrooms." Subsequent fire was "sporadic" and apparently aimed at the door, he said.

McCraw said Friday that the school police officer was not on campus but rushed there after the 911 call about a man with a gun at the crash. "He drove right by the suspect," who was crouched behind a vehicle in the parking lot, and mistook a teacher for an intruder, McCraw said.

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5. 11:35 a.m.: Three officers enter school and two are wounded, official says

McCraw said that three officers with the Uvalde Police Department were the first officers into the school and that two "received grazing wounds at that time from Ramos.

McCraw said Ramos had locked the doors to Rooms 111 and 112 but briefly re-emerged into the hall -- at a time McCraw did not specify -- before locking himself in the classrooms again.

Gunfire was heard at 11:37 a.m., 11:38 a.m., 11:40 a.m. and 11:44 a.m., he said.

Four more local officers -- from the police department and county sheriff's office -- arrived, according to McCraw, at a time he did not say.

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6. 11:43 a.m.: School announces lockdown after gunshots

Robb Elementary announced a lockdown on Facebook "due to gunshots in the area" at 11:43 a.m. and claimed that students and staff were "safe in the building."

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7. 11:54 a.m.: Video shows family members frustrated with police

A video recorded outside the school starting at 11:54 a.m. captures parents criticizing the police response to the gunman still inside. "They need to go in there," a man says in the video verified by The Washington Post and Storyful, accusing police of "standing outside." Just before noon, the video shows students' family members confronting a uniformed officer who pushes a man back and yells at people to retreat across the street.

Speaking at Thursday's news conference, Escalon said police were working to assemble the right resources - "specialty equipment," body armor, negotiators -- and also evacuating students and teachers. "They were taking gunfire . . . developing a team to make entry to stop him," Escalon said.

McCraw on Friday attributed delays in confronting the shooter to law enforcement's eventual decision to treat the shooting as a "barricaded subject situation" rather than an active shooter situation.

By 12 p.m., video showed children running away from the school.

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8. 12:03 p.m.: Child starts calling 911 repeatedly from classroom

A girl called 911 for a little over a minute and whispered that she was in Room 112, McCraw said. She called back at 12:10 p.m. reporting multiple people dead, he said, and again a few minutes later.

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9. Shortly after noon: 'There was plenty of officers'

McCraw said that "as many as 19" law enforcement officers had converged on a school hallway. McCraw initially suggested they assembled by 12:03 p.m., but later said that number included Border Patrol tactical team members who arrived around 12:15 p.m. with shields.

"There was plenty of officers to do whatever needed to be done," McCraw said. But the incident commander believed more equipment and people were needed for a "breach," McCraw said, and a sense that law enforcement "had time" and saw "no kids at risk" was relayed to Border Patrol members.

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10. 12:16 p.m.: Eight or nine students alive, child says

In yet another 911 call at 12:16 p.m., McCraw said, the girl from Room 112 said eight or nine students were alive.

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11. 12:19 p.m.: 911 call from another classroom

A student in Room 111 called 911 but hung up at the urging of another student, McCraw said. At 12:21 p.m., he said, three shots could be heard over the 911 line.

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12. 12:21 p.m.: Gunman believed to fire 'last shot' before entry

The gunman fired again inside one of the classrooms and was thought to be at a classroom door, McCraw said. Law enforcement moved down the hallway, he added.

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13. 12:23 p.m.: Scene 'remains active,' police say

In a Facebook update time-stamped 12:23 p.m., the Uvalde Police Department asked parents to pick students up at SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center -- about a five-minute drive from the elementary school -- and said the shooting scene was still "active." The Uvalde school district wrote on Facebook at 12:30 p.m. that students were being taken to the civic center for "reunification."

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14. 12:36 p.m.: Girl calls 911 again

At 12:36, 911 received another from the child in Room 112, according to McCraw, and she was "told to stay on the line and told to stay quiet."

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15. 12:43 p.m.: 'Please send the police now'

The same girl asked 911 to send police at 12:43 p.m. and reiterated the plea four minutes later, McCraw said.

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16. 12:50 p.m.: Officers unlock classroom doors and kill gunman

McCraw said Friday that officers used keys they got from a janitor to unlock the classroom doors and fatally shot Ramos in Room 111.

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17. 1:06 p.m.: Police say they have stopped Ramos

The Uvalde Police Department wrote on Facebook: "Update @ 1:06 Shooter is in Police Custody."

The Washington Post

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