Texas state police are conducting a top-to-bottom review of how police responded, from initial reports to a confrontation with the gunman before he breached Robb Elementary School Tuesday and killed 19 children and their two teachers.
The state police, known as the Texas Rangers, are not out to lay blame but rather to determine whether the school officers returned gunfire and what prevented them and Uvalde police from stopping the killer before he entered the fourth grade classroom via an unlocked door and announced, “It’s time to die.”
In a chaotic and heart-wrenching scene, neighbors and parents screamed and pleaded with officers to go into the school and save the children. It took 40 minutes to an hour for Border Patrol agents to break into the classroom and kill the 18-year-old attacker.
Sources close to the investigation, not authorized to speak on the record, said the review of law enforcement actions is routine after a major incident, but it has intensified in this case because of differing accounts from neighbors and witnesses about what police did and when. Authorities await final collection of evidence at the scene and analysis of ballistics.
There is a discrepancy on whether a Uvalde school district resource officer fired at the shooter as he entered the school. Texas Department of Public Safety officials initially said the officer and shooter exchanged fire, then they said late Wednesday that they could no longer be confident that he discharged his weapon.
The Texas Rangers, the state’s premier law enforcement agency, is also looking at the Uvalde Police Department response.
The shooter was killed by a U.S. Border Patrol agent assigned to an elite tactical team who breached the classroom with other law enforcement officers.
Calls to Uvalde Police Chief Daniel Rodriguez were not immediately returned Thursday.
According to the Uvalde County Independent School District Officers protocol, “secondary campuses have staff who patrol door entrances, parking lots and perimeters of the campuses.” Robb Elementary is fenced to limit or restrict access to classrooms, where teachers are instructed to keep doors locked at all times.
Authorities focused on an early timeline of law enforcement’s convergence on Robb Elementary School, as community members pleaded for officers to storm the building, where the 18-year-old gunman had barricaded himself in the classroom.
“Go in there! Go in there!” women shouted at officers soon after the attack began, said Juan Carranza, 24, who saw the scene from outside his house. The officers did not immediately enter the building, Carranza said.
Javier Cazares, whose fourth grade daughter, Jacklyn, was killed in the attack, said he arrived while police were gathered outside the building. Upset that they weren’t moving in, he suggested to several other bystanders that they charge into the school.