It has been just over 72 hours since the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and a new timeline is now emerging. After conflicting initial reports, families of the 21 victims (19 children and 2 teachers) and the public at large have a lot of questions for the police who responded to the situation, yet overwhelmingly, there seems to be a lack of answers and clarity. The developing details are proving to be disturbing and it is becoming increasingly apparent that more could have been done to potentially save lives.
What most recently came to light is that a significant amount of time passed with no action on the part of the police. Even parents who rushed to the school were begging the police to go inside and do something – to no avail. It is now being reported that a total of 76 minutes went by before the shooter was finally killed by Border Patrol. The rationale for the prolonged inaction? According to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw, "the on-scene commander at the time believed that it had transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject."
"A decision was made on the scene – I wasn’t there – that this was a barricaded subject situation, there was time to retrieve the keys and wait for a tactical team with the equipment to go ahead and breach the door and take on the subject," McCraw continued at a press conference on Friday. He later admitted: "from the benefit of hindsight from where I am sitting now, that of course it was not the right decision, it was a wrong decision, very, there was no excuse for that."
Beyond a faulty (and fatal) police strategy, one of the other big questions is: how did the gunman, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, enter the school? As it turns out, he walked right in due to a propped-open door.
As information is evolving regarding the timeline, here is what has been pieced together so far:
11:27 a.m. – A teacher props open a door to the school.
11:28 a.m. – The suspect crashes his car in a ditch. The teacher runs back inside to get a phone and then runs back to the exit door, which remains open.
11:30 a.m. – The teacher apparently calls 911. Law enforcement receive a call describing "a crashed vehicle and an individual armed with a rifle making his way into the school."
11:31 a.m. – The suspect reaches "last row of vehicles in parking lot" and begins shooting at the school. The patrol car, driven by the resource officer, accelerates to the parking lot and drives past the suspect.
Note: It was originally reported that a resource officer confronted the suspect, however, "that did not happen," Director McCraw told the press. For unknown reasons, the resource officer was not at the school, but upon hearing the 911 call, he immediately drove to the school. He saw who he thought to be the suspect, only to find out it was a teacher, and in doing so he drove right past Ramos as he was crouched behind his crashed car.
11:33 a.m. – The suspect walks into the school through an unlocked door and faces no resistance. He begins shooting. Soon after, he enters the main classroom where the bulk of the victims is killed. He fires at least 100 rounds.
11:35 a.m. – Three Uvalde police officers arrive on the scene and enter the school through the same unlocked door. They are later followed by 3 other Uvalde officers and a county deputy sheriff. So, 7 officers in total are on the scene. Two officers receive "grazing wounds" from the suspect while heading towards the classroom door, which is closed at the time.
11:37 a.m. – More gunfire is heard, approximately 16 rounds.
11:51 a.m. – A police sergeant and another agent arrive on the scene.
12:03 p.m. – Officers continue to arrive until there are "as many as 19 officers" in the hallway. A 911 call is made from a female in room 112.
12:10 p.m. – The same female in room 112 calls 911 again and says that multiple people are dead.
12:13 p.m. – The female in room 112 calls back 911.
12:15 p.m. – BORTAC (The Border Patrol Tactical Unit) members arrive with shields.
12:16 p.m. – The female in room 112 calls 911 again and says that 8 to 9 students are still alive inside the classroom.
12:19 p.m. – A female student in room 111 calls 911 but she hangs up when another student tells her to get off of the phone.
12:21 p.m. – The suspect fires again while supposedly at the door, which is heard over a 911 call. Law enforcement move down the hallway.
12:36 p.m. – Law enforcement receive another 911 call from a female student that lasts 21 seconds. The student calls back and says, "he shot the door."
12:43 p.m. – The same female student asks 911 to "please send the police now."
12:46 p.m. – The female student tells 911 that she could hear the police next door.
12:50 p.m. – Law enforcement breaches the door "using keys that they were able to get from the janitor." The suspect is killed by Border Patrol.
Watch the entirety of the latest press conference here.
So much went wrong. So many questions.
Ken Trump, president of the consulting firm National School Safety and Security Services, said this: "Based on best practices, it’s very difficult to understand why there were any types of delays, particularly when you get into reports of 40 minutes and up of going in to neutralize that shooter."
The entire nation is now mourning in the wake of this massacre and the emerging specifics of the horrific event are providing no comfort. So, what should have been done differently? Where do we go from here? How can we prevent evil people from carrying out evil schemes on innocent lives?
While lawmakers are scrambling to create solutions with bipartisan support, discussing possibilities of increased gun control and increased school security, there may never be a foolproof answer to the deeper problem at hand: humans that are capable of committing such pure evil. But one thing is certain, we will never forget the names or faces of the victims of this unthinkable, hellish act.
Photos of the 21 victims at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Image source.