NATIONAL NEWS

Police: Texas gunman walked through apparently unlocked door

May 26, 2022, 8:08 AM | Updated: Jun 13, 2022, 10:59 am
A memorial is seen surrounding the Robb Elementary School sign following the mass shooting at Robb ...
A memorial is seen surrounding the Robb Elementary School sign following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 26, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. According to reports, 19 students and 2 adults were killed, with the gunman fatally shot by law enforcement. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — A Texas law enforcement official says the 18-year-old gunman who slaughtered 21 people at an elementary school entered the building “unobstructed” through a door that was apparently unlocked.

Victor Escalon, a regional director at the Texas Department of Public Safety, said Thursday that Salvador Ramos did not initially encounter any law enforcement officers when he entered Robb Elementary School on Tuesday and opened fire, killing 19 children and two teachers.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — Law enforcement authorities faced mounting questions and criticism Thursday over how much time elapsed before they stormed a Texas elementary school classroom and put a stop to the rampage by a gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers.

Separately, after two days of unclear and contradictory accounts from police, a Texas law enforcement official said that an armed school district officer did not encounter or exchange fire with the attacker, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, before he entered Robb Elementary in the town of Uvalde, as previously reported.

But many other details about the timing of events and the police response remained murky. The motive for the massacre — the nation’s deadliest school shooting since Newtown, Connecticut, a decade ago — remained under investigation, with authorities saying Ramos had no known criminal or mental health history.

During the siege, which ended when a U.S. Border Patrol team burst in and shot the gunman to death, frustrated onlookers urged police officers to charge into the school, according to witnesses.

“Go in there! Go in there!” women shouted at the officers soon after the attack began, said Juan Carranza, 24, who watched the scene from outside a house across the street.

Carranza said the officers should have entered the school sooner: “There were more of them. There was just one of him.”

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said Wednesday that 40 minutes to an hour elapsed from when Ramos opened fire on the school security officer to when the tactical team shot him.

“The bottom line is law enforcement was there,” McCraw said. “They did engage immediately. They did contain (Ramos) in the classroom.”

But a department spokesman said Thursday that authorities were still working to clarify the timeline of the attack, uncertain whether that period of 40 minutes to an hour began when the gunman reached the school, or earlier, when he shot his grandmother at home.

“Right now we do not have an accurate or confident timeline to provide to say the gunman was in the school for this period,” Lt. Christopher Olivarez told CNN.

Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz did not give a timeline but said repeatedly that the tactical officers from his agency who arrived at the school did not hesitate. He said they moved rapidly to enter the building, lining up in a “stack” behind an agent holding up a shield.

“What we wanted to make sure is to act quickly, act swiftly, and that’s exactly what those agents did,” Ortiz told Fox News.

But a law enforcement official said that once in the building, the Border Patrol agents had trouble breaching the classroom door and had to get a staff member to open the room with a key. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly about the investigation.

Olivarez said investigators were trying to establish whether the classroom was, in fact, locked or barricaded in some way.

Javier Cazares, whose fourth grade daughter, Jacklyn Cazares, was killed in the attack, said he raced to the school as the massacre unfolded. When he arrived, he saw two officers outside the school and about five others escorting students out of the building. But 15 or 20 minutes passed before the arrival of officers with shields, equipped to confront the gunman, he said.

As more parents flocked to the school, he and others pressed police to act, Cazares said. He heard about four gunshots before he and the others were ordered back to a parking lot.

“A lot of us were arguing with the police, ‘You all need to go in there. You all need to do your jobs.’ Their response was, ‘We can’t do our jobs because you guys are interfering,’” Cazares said.

Ramos crashed his truck into a ditch outside the school, grabbed his AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle and shot at two people outside a funeral home, who ran away uninjured, according to authorities and witnesses.

As for the armed school officer, he was driving nearby but was not on campus when Ramos crashed his truck, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke of condition of anonymity. Investigators have concluded that school officer was not positioned between the school and Ramos, leaving him unable to confront the shooter before he entered the building, the law enforcement official said.

As Ramos entered the school, two Uvalde police officers exchanged fire with him, and were wounded, according to Olivarez. Ramos began killing his victims in a classroom.

On Wednesday night, hundreds packed the bleachers at the town’s fairgrounds for a vigil. Some cried. Some closed their eyes tight, mouthing silent prayers. Parents wrapped their arms around their children as the speakers led prayers for healing.

Before attacking the school, Ramos shot and wounded his grandmother at the home they shared. Gilbert Gallegos, 82, who lives across the street and has known the family for decades, said he was puttering in his yard when he heard the shots.

Ramos ran out the front door and across the yard to a truck parked in front of the house and raced away: “He spun out, I mean fast,” spraying gravel in the air, Gallegos said.

Ramos’ grandmother emerged covered in blood: “She says, ‘Berto, this is what he did. He shot me.’” She was hospitalized.

Gallegos said he had heard no arguments before or after the shots, and knew of no history of bullying or abuse of Ramos, whom he rarely saw.

Lorena Auguste was substitute teaching at Uvalde High School when she heard about the shooting and began frantically texting her niece, a fourth grader at Robb Elementary. Eventually she found out the girl was OK.

But that night, her niece had a question.

“Why did they do this to us?” the girl asked. “We’re good kids. We didn’t do anything wrong.”

___

Bleiberg reported from Dallas.

___

More on the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas: https://apnews.com/hub/school-shootings

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Hours after gunfire interrupted the Highland Park, Illinois, July Fourth parade, killing six people...
Dakin Andone, Steve Almasy and Curt Devine, CNN

What we know about the Highland Park shooting suspect

Robert "Bobby" E. Crimo III, 21, faces seven charges of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting in Highland Park, Illinois.
1 day ago
FILE IMAGE - Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury durring pregame warmups at Footprint Center...
DOUG FEINBERG, AP Basketball Writer

White House: Biden has read Griner letter pleading for help

Brittney Griner’s appeal to President Joe Biden in a handwritten letter continued to garner reaction Tuesday after the WNBA All-Star acknowledged she feared never returning home and asked Biden not “forget about me and the other American Detainees.”
1 day ago
HIGHLAND PARK, IL - JULY 05: Law enforcement work the scene of a shooting at a Fourth of July parad...
Amir Vera, Jason Hanna, Adrienne Broaddus and Helen Regan, CNN

Highland Park parade shooting suspect charged with 7 counts of murder, state’s attorney says

The suspect in Monday's mass shooting at a July 4th parade in Highland Park, Illinois, that left seven dead and injured more than two dozen has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder.
1 day ago
An Atlanta-area special grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump's attempts to overtu...
Sara Murray and Jason Morris, CNN

Graham, Giuliani, Eastman and other Trump advisers subpoenaed in Georgia election probe

An Atlanta-area special grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump's attempts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia has subpoenaed a handful of key Trump allies, including his former attorney and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham
1 day ago
R&B singer R. Kelly (L) arrives at the Cook County courthouse where jury selection is scheduled to ...
Associated Press

In reversal, prosecutors say R. Kelly off suicide watch

Prosecutors say R. Kelly is no longer on suicide watch following the jailed R&B singer's sentencing in a federal sex abuse case.
1 day ago
A person pumps gas at a Shell gas station on April 01, 2022, in Houston, Texas. The Biden administr...
Alicia Wallace and Chris Isidore, CNN

Oil drops below $100 a barrel for first time since early May

For the first time in nearly two months, crude oil prices have fallen below $100 a barrel, reflecting investors' growing concerns of a US recession.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Police: Texas gunman walked through apparently unlocked door