A Texas public safety official faced a barrage of questions over the timeline of police response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that left 19 children and two teachers dead.
Victor Escalon, South Texas regional director for the Department of Public Safety, told reporters that they are still trying to determine why it took an hour for tactical teams to arrive at the scene and back up local police who initially arrived at the school and were met by gunfire from the shooter.
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Escalon also said that a school resource officer did not confront the shooter outside the building, despite previous reports, and that he entered the school through an unlocked door. The gunman “was not confronted by anybody,” he said.
Escalon said that at about 11:28 AM on Tuesday, the shooter, having just shot his grandmother in the face, crashed his vehicle and then jumped out of the passenger side of his truck.
“According to witnesses, he’s got a long arm rifle and a bag. Later we find out it’s ammunition,” Escalon said.
He said that the shooter then fired at two witnesses at a funeral home across the street from where he crashed the vehicle. He then continued to walk toward the school, climbed a fence and shot at the school multiple times.
At about 11:40, Escalon said, the shooter walked into the west side of the school and fired multiple shots.
Four minutes after that, he said, the Uvalde Police Department and Independent School District Police Department arrived and went inside.
“They hear gunfire, they take rounds, they move back and get cover,” he said. He said that the gunman entered a classroom that had doors “opened in the middle.”
The officers were not able to get into the classroom because of ‘the gunfire they’re receiving,” Escalon said, and they called for backup.
He said that about an hour later, U.S. border patrol tactical teams arrived. They made entry and shot and killed the suspect.
Escalon acknowledged that the information still remained incomplete, but he said that they continue to investigate.
CNN’s Simon Prokupecz asked, “Can you explain how he was barricaded and why you [could not] breach that door? We have been getting a lot of bad information. So why don’t you clear all of this up now and explain to us how it is that your officers who are in there for an hour, yes, rescuing people, but no one was able to get inside that room?”
“We want to answer all your questions,” Escalon said. “Give us time.”
After the press conference, ABC News’ Matt Gutman said on air that “the timeline remains murky.”
Noting the hour or so that the gunman was in the school before he was shot, Gutman said, “This is a very long incident, and it gives you a sense of why this investigation is so complex at this point.”
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