As terrified parents of children locked inside Robb Elementary School with a gunman wielding an AR-15-style rifle looked on from behind a police barrier on Tuesday morning, they repeatedly urged dozens of officers on the scene to charge the building. Instead, some of the parents were restrained and pinned to the ground.
“Go in there! Go in there!” women shouted at police officers soon after the attack began, according to Juan Carranza, who lives across the street from the school and told AP about parents’ efforts to get the police to confront the shooter.
Officials now say the shooter was barricaded inside a classroom of fourth graders for up to an hour. As the minutes ticked by, and it became clear that the police officers were not going to intervene, some parents considered taking matters into their own hands.
Javier Cazares was on an errand half a mile away from the school his 9-year-old daughter, Jacklyn, attended when he heard about the shooting. When he arrived, he huddled with other concerned fathers near the school’s front door. Then he heard gunshots going off inside.
“There were five or six of [us] fathers, hearing the gunshots, and [police officers] were telling us to move back,” Cazares told the Washington Post. “We didn’t care about us. We wanted to storm the building. We were saying, ‘Let’s go’ because that is how worried we were, and we wanted to get our babies out.”
“More could have been done,” Cazares told AP of the police response. “They were unprepared.”
Instead, the police moved Cazares and the other fathers back from the building and refused appeals to enter the school and engage the shooter. Then they started restraining distressed parents. One video from the scene shows law enforcement officials tackling onlookers and pinning them to the ground to prevent them from entering the school.
The revelations about parents wanting to storm the building and urging police officers to do the same provide some more clarification about the timeline of the horrific shooting, which left 19 children and two teachers dead.
So far, as a result of confusing and conflicting information coming from law enforcement and elected officials, there is no clear sense of how long the shooter was inside the building.
Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw appeared to clarify the timeline when he told reporters that up to an hour elapsed from when the shooter opened fire at the school to when he was killed. But a department spokesperson later said they couldn’t provide an accurate estimate of how long the shooter was in the building.
Two Uvalde police officers who were among the first to arrive on the scene engaged the shooter after he had entered the building, but they remained outside. Both were shot and injured during the incident.
It is still unclear exactly when the gunman entered the building, but the school put out an alert at 11:43 a.m. Tuesday to say that it was going on lockdown. It wasn’t until 1:06 p.m. that the police announced the shooter was “in custody.”
During that time, parents, journalists, and local residents all converged on the school while the shooter had barricaded himself inside a fourth-grade classroom, which was connected to a second classroom via an internal door.
Initial reports suggested that the siege was ended when a Border Patrol agent entered the building and killed the gunman. However, a spokesperson for the Customs and Border Protection agency told VICE News on Wednesday night that four members of the Border Patrol tactical unit entered the school as a “stack“ formation with one of the agents holding a shield.
The spokesperson claimed that one of the officers in that formation killed the gunman, indicating that three members of the group had discharged their weapons. The spokesperson said it was “unclear which bullet from which gun struck him.”
However, one of the survivors of the shooting told a local news station that when the police did finally reach the gunman, they may have inadvertently led him to a final victim.
“When the cops came, the cop said: ‘Yell if you need help!’ And one of the persons in my class said ‘help.’ The [shooter] overheard and he came in and shot her,” a boy who was hiding under a table in the classroom at the time told San Antonio-based KENS 5. "The cop barged into that classroom. The guy shot at the cop. And the cops started shooting.”
Many questions remain about exactly what happened during the shooting–but for Cazares, the answer he wanted more than anything as he considered storming the building came several hours later, when he learned Jacklyn had been shot. She died at the hospital.
Keegan Hamilton contributed to this report.
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