By Lucia Leal
Uvalde, US, May 26 (EFE).- Criticism of the police’s response during a deadly shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, grew louder on Thursday after local authorities acknowledged that the attacker entered the building unobstructed.
Solemn events were held a few kilometers away at the central square of the city in tribute to the 19 children and two teachers killed in the shooting two days earlier.
Meanwhile, authorities are faced with increasing questions about their response to the incident.
“At the end of the day our job is to report the facts and have those answers. We’re not there yet,” state Department of Public Safety South Texas Regional Director Victor Escalon admitted at a press conference.
Criticism that the police acted slowly or inappropriately has grown on social media and among some residents of Uvalde, especially after authorities confirmed that the attacker spent up to an hour barricaded in a classroom before being shot dead by the officers.
Several videos from Tuesday circulating on the internet show the students’ parents and relatives in the vicinity of the school, screaming and confronting the police for – in their opinion – not intervening while the shooting was underway inside.
Escalón said that, contrary to what school district sources indicated hours before, there was no confrontation between a school district police officer and the attacker, Salvador Ramos, when he entered the Robb Elementary School around 11:40 am Tuesday.
“Not accurate. He (Ramos) walked in unobstructed initially…he was not confronted by anybody,” Escalón said.
He also acknowledged that one of the school’s doors was unlocked when Ramos arrived, for reasons that are still being investigated.
After shooting his grandmother in the face at home, Ramos drove to the elementary school and crashed his vehicle nearby at around 11:28 am.
He then walked with a rifle and ammunition for twelve minutes until he entered the school at around 11:40 am. Four minutes later, the police stormed the school.
On his way to the school on foot, Ramos fired at two people at a funeral home across the street without causing any injuries.
When local police officers arrived at the scene, they heard shots and identified the classroom where the assailant was.
However, they could not access it as Ramos opened fire on them every time they tried.
The officers called for reinforcements and began evacuating students and teachers from the rest of the school.
Meanwhile, Ramos remained holed up in a classroom, where he fired indiscriminately, killing 19 children and two teachers and wounding many others.
It was around 12.40 pm when Border Patrol agents arrived and managed to shoot down the 18-year-old gunman.
Many Uvalde residents are questioning why, despite having recently doubled the security budget and trained officers to respond to shootings, there was not a quicker response by the school district.
Pastor Daniel Myers, who went to pray at the central square, where 21 crosses have been placed in the memory of the victims, told EFE that it was necessary to train police officers to respond to such an event instead of waiting.