Police response to Texas school shooting questioned
Uvalde, Texas — Frustrated onlookers urged police officers to charge into the Texas elementary school where a gunman's rampage killed 19 children and two teachers, witnesses said Wednesday, as investigators worked to track the massacre that lasted upwards of 40 minutes and ended when the 18-year-old shooter was killed by a Border Patrol team.
"Go in there! Go in there!" nearby women shouted at the officers soon after the attack began, said Juan Carranza, 24, who saw the scene from outside his house across the street from Robb Elementary School in the close-knit town of Uvalde. Carranza said the officers did not go in.
Javier Cazares, whose fourth grade daughter, Jacklyn Cazares, was killed in the attack, said he raced to the school when he heard about the shooting, arriving while police were still gathered outside the building.
Upset that police were not moving in, he raised the idea of charging into the school with several other bystanders.
"Let's just rush in because the cops aren't doing anything like they are supposed to," he said. "More could have been done."
"They were unprepared," he added.
Carranza said the officers should have entered the school sooner.
"There were more of them. There was just one of him," he said.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection official told CBS News a tactical "stack" of four CBP agents entered the school. Three opened fire and "engaged the shooter," the official said.
Jason Owens, Chief Patrol Agent for the U.S. Border Patrol's Del Rio Sector, told CBS News 80 CBP agents, many of them off-duty, responded to the shooting.
Carranza, the neighbor, said he watched as the gunman, identified by authorities as Salvador Ramos, 18, crashed his truck into a ditch outside the school, grabbed his AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle and shot at two people outside a nearby funeral home who ran away uninjured.
Officials say he "encountered" a school district security officer outside the school, though there were conflicting reports from authorities on whether the men exchanged gunfire.
After running inside, the shooter fired on two arriving Uvalde police officers who were outside the building, said Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson Travis Considine. The police officers were injured.
After entering the school, the gunman charged into one classroom and began to kill.
The gunman barricaded himself in the classroom, Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety told "CBS Mornings."
"At that point, [he] just started shooting children and teachers that were inside that classroom, having no regard for human life," Olivarez said. "Just a complete tragedy. An evil person going into the school and killing children for no reason whatsoever."
All those killed were in the same classroom, he said.
Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told reporters that 40 minutes to an hour elapsed from when the gunman opened fire on the school security officer to when the tactical team shot him, though a department spokesman said later that they could not give a solid estimate of how long the gunman was in the school or when he was killed.
"The bottom line is law enforcement was there," McCraw said. "They did engage immediately. They did contain (the shooter) in the classroom."
Olivarez said the officers who first responded to the scene "were at a point of disadvantage" and were not able to make entry.
"There was no way they were able to make entry, especially with the amount of manpower that was on scene," he said. "So at that point, their primary focus was to evacuate as many children as possible."
A specialized tactical unit made of local, state and federal law enforcement officers were eventually able to enter the classroom, authorities said. Three officers were injured, and all are in good condition, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said.
McCraw commended the officers who engaged the shooter before the tactical unit entered, saying they saved lives by keeping him "pinned down" at his location.
"Obviously this is a situation we failed in the sense that we didn't prevent this mass attack — but I can tell you, those officers that arrived on the scene and put their lives in danger, they saved other kids," he said. "They kept him pinned down, and we're very proud of that."
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