Australia & World

Texas officials deflect questions on ‘missing hour’ when gunman was in school – latest updates | Texas school shooting

Officials can’t say why Uvalde gunman wasn’t confronted

A briefing Thursday afternoon by the Texas Department of Public Safety created more questions than answers about a “missing” hour during which the Uvalde gunman was in the school but not confronted by law enforcement officers.

Victor Escalon, the department’s regional director, deflected reporters’ questions about why officers did not attempt to stop the gunman in that time.

Victor Escalon of the Texas Department of Public Safety addresses the media on Thursday.
Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA

During the short, and sometimes chaotic briefing, Escalon appeared defensive when challenged about the delay. Parents of victims have expressed distress at the apparent hesitation of law enforcement to storm the school, and some begged officers to move in.

“There’s lot of possibilities,” Escalon said, insisting that investigators needed time to interview officers from multiple jurisdictions who were eventually present.

“At the end of the day our job is to report the facts. We don’t have all the answers. We’re not there yet”.

But in laying out a preliminary timeline of the shooting, he did indicate that the gunman appeared to have been able to gain entry to the school through an unlocked back door, and that, contrary to earlier reports, there was no armed police officer on duty at the campus when the shooter walked in and began Tuesday’s deadly rampage that killed 19 students and two teachers.

“The majority of the gunfire was in the beginning,” Escalon said, adding that officers first on the scene prioritized calling for back up and trying to evacuate students and children.

“He did not respond [to officers trying to speak to him],” Escalon said.

Escalon ended the briefing by promising to get back to the media when he had more information to give.

Jacklyn Cazares remembered as ‘firecracker … with big heart’

The AP has more details on Jacklyn Cazares, a nine-year-old girl who was killed in the shooting alongside her cousin, Annabelle Rodriguez:

Jacklyn Cazares hadn’t yet reached her 10th birthday, but she was already a tough-minded “firecracker” always looking to help people in need, her father said. Jacklyn and her second cousin, Annabelle Rodriguez, were especially tight with three other classmates at Robb elementary school.

“They are all gone now,” Javier Cazares said. “All her little best friends were killed too.”

Jacklyn would have turned ten on 10 June. Despite her young age, she was equal parts tough-minded and compassionate.

“She had a voice,” her father said. “She didn’t like bullies, she didn’t like kids being picked on. All in all, full of love. She had a big heart.”

Jacklyn Cazares
Jacklyn Cazares Photograph: Family photo

More about the victims here:

Mother says she was handcuffed outside school

As criticisms mount over the police response to the massacre, one mother who was outside of the school as the attack was unfolding says that officers handcuffed her after she urged police to enter.

Angeli Rose Gomez, who has children in the second and third grade in the school, told the Wall Street Journal she drove 40 miles to the school when she heard there was a shooting and that when she arrived, “The police were doing nothing. They were just standing outside the fence. They weren’t going in there or running anywhere.”

She told the paper that after a few minutes of her urging officers to act, federal marshals approached and put her in handcuffs, alleging that she was being arrested for interfering in an active investigation. She said she was released after she talked to Uvalde police officers she personally knew who convinced the marshals to let her go. At that point, she said she entered the school and got her two children.

Gomez also told the Journal that after the gunman was killed, she saw police use a Taser on a local father who was approaching a bus to find his child. Gomez described it this way:

They didn’t do that to the shooter, but they did that to us. That’s how it felt.”

A mom of two children at Uvalde was put in handcuffs after urging police and law enforcement to enter the school.

Once freed from her cuffs, she jumped the school fence, ran inside and sprinted out with her kids.

New from @WSJ: https://t.co/SYdgysw0gF pic.twitter.com/ZCadllw9aT

— Megan Menchaca (@meganmmenchaca) May 26, 2022

Officials have not offered a clear explanation as to why the gunman was in the school for up to an hour before he was stopped and killed, even while officers were on scene. Authorities admitted that police officers had assembled outside the room where the gunman was located, but did not make any attempt to break through the door during that hour. Instead, they decided to pull back and wait until a specialist tactical unit arrived, while evacuating other children and staff from the building. More on the police response here:

Biden’s press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said the White House was “disappointed” that Republicans in the Senate blocked the domestic terrorism prevention bill that the Democratic-controlled House last week.

We need Congress to act. We need Congress to advance commonsense measures that we know will save lives.

She later added, “Commonsense gun safety laws work. We know this. They save lives. The public supports this. They are behind this.”

A reporter asked whether Biden would be doing anything differently to reflect the urgency of the gun violence crisis, the press secretary responded, “The president has already declared gun violence to be a public health epidemic. This is a president who has been working on gun violence, comprehensive gun reform since he was a senator.”

When the reporter followed up and asked whether it was indictment of Biden that he has been involved in the issue for so long and so little has changed, she said, “He understands we need to do more, but Congress also has to act … The president is doing everything that he can to get this done.”

The White House is declining to weigh in on the concerns about the Texas law enforcement response to the school shooting.

Asked at the briefing whether Joe Biden would call for an investigation into police’s actions at the shooting, Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, responded: “The president has the utmost respect for the men and women of law enforcement … We won’t pre-judge the results from here at this time.”

The gunman was in the school for up to an hour before he was killed, even while officers were on scene, and officials have not offered a clear explanation of the timeline or what police were doing during that hour.

Asked about the NRA convention scheduled to begin in Texas, Jean-Pierre said:

It’s not about the convention. What is inappropriate is that the leadership of the National Rifle Association has proven time and time again that they are contributing to the problem of gun violence, not trying to solve it … [They are] marketing weapons of war to adults. They don’t represent gun owners who know we need to take action. The NRA and their allies have stood in the way of [gun safety measures]. It is shameful.

About the response from some Republicans calling for more armed people, the press secretary said, “If more guns were the solution, we’d be the safest country in the world.”

Joe Biden to visit Uvalde on Sunday

Hi all – Sam Levin here, taking over our live coverage:

The White House has announced that Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will be traveling to Uvalde, Texas on Sunday to “grieve with the community”. Officials did not have further details on the visit, though a press briefing is due to start momentarily. Follow along here for updates.

Summary

Here are today’s developments so far from Tuesday’s mass shooting at Robb elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two teachers:

  • Investigators at an afternoon media briefing were unable to say why the gunman was not confronted during a “missing hour” between entering the school and being killed by a SWAT team.
  • Parents and other locals expressed distress at the apparent hesitation of law enforcement to storm the school, with some having begged officers to move in as the massacre was still ongoing.
  • However, US Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz said agents “didn’t hesitate” when responding to the shooting.They came up with a plan. They entered that classroom and they took care of the situation as quickly as they possibly could,” he told CNN.
  • Democratic senator Chris Murphy called for a “popular uprising of citizens” to pressure Republicans to support gun laws following the shooting.
  • Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said he would delay a vote on background checks for weapons buyers while bipartisan talks progressed, but warned Republicans he would move ahead if no deal was reached.
  • March for Our Lives, the student-led gun reform activist group set up in the wake of the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Florida, is planning protest events in several US cities on 11 June.
  • Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz confronted a British reporter and angrily left an interview after he was asked why school shootings like the one in Uvalde happen so often in the US.
  • Before attacking the school, the gunman, named as Salvador Ramos, shot and wounded his grandmother at her home. Neighbors called police when she staggered outside and they saw she had been shot in the face.
  • The gunman sent three online messages in the half-hour before the mass shooting, according to Texas governor Greg Abbott. The messages were sent via Facebook and “discovered after the terrible tragedy,” company spokesman Andy Stone said.
  • The gunman had legally bought the rifle and a second one like it last week, just after his birthday, authorities said.

Thanks for following. My colleague Sam Levin will guide you through the next few hours.

Just days after the deadliest mass school shooting in Texas history, the National Rifle Association (NRA) – America’s leading gun lobbyist group – will meet a few hours away in Houston on Friday.

Ashton P Woods says they are not welcome in his home town.

“These people are coming into our community. The city of Houston needs to kick them out,” said Woods, an activist and founder of Black Lives Matter Houston. “We have to be just as tough about these things as they are.”

Woods is helping organize one of several protests planned just outside the George R Brown Convention Center, where NRA members will browse exhibits of firearms and gun paraphernalia and hear speeches from Republican leaders including Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas.

The goal of the Black Lives Matter protest, Woods said, is to “get loud” outside while powerful speakers take the podium inside. Woods said the issue of firearms was particularly important to the civil rights group that primarily tackles issues of police brutality in America.

“Whether it be death by suicide, death by cop, death by mass shooter, we need to control the access people have to deadly weapons,” Woods said. “These things are interconnected.”

Democratic Texas congressman Colin Allred was another on Wednesday to attack the NRA conference, and its prominent attendees.

“It’s a disgrace that these Republicans are choosing to attend the NRA convention, when they should be in their respective legislatures doing everything in their power to prevent the next attack like this,” he said in a video address from the Democratic party’s war room.

“When it comes to Ted Cruz, let’s just say he’s one of the biggest recipients of gun lobby spending and was the top recipient of campaign donations from so called gun rights backers in the 2018 election cycle.

“We know who Ted Cruz is serving, and it’s not Texans.”

Full story:

Police in Toronto shot and injured a man who was walking down a street carrying a gun in a city neighborhood, and five nearby schools were placed on lockdown, officials in Canada said, according to Reuters.

The suspect, whose condition was not immediately clear, was described as a male in his late teens or early 20s, the Toronto police department said.

The incident occurred in Port Union, a residential area north of Toronto’s city center. Three of the schools remained on lockdown Thursday afternoon, and two others were declared “hold and secure” due to ongoing police work.

Officials can’t say why Uvalde gunman wasn’t confronted

A briefing Thursday afternoon by the Texas Department of Public Safety created more questions than answers about a “missing” hour during which the Uvalde gunman was in the school but not confronted by law enforcement officers.

Victor Escalon, the department’s regional director, deflected reporters’ questions about why officers did not attempt to stop the gunman in that time.

Victor Escalon of the Texas Department of Public Safety addresses the media on Thursday.
Victor Escalon of the Texas Department of Public Safety addresses the media on Thursday.
Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA

During the short, and sometimes chaotic briefing, Escalon appeared defensive when challenged about the delay. Parents of victims have expressed distress at the apparent hesitation of law enforcement to storm the school, and some begged officers to move in.

“There’s lot of possibilities,” Escalon said, insisting that investigators needed time to interview officers from multiple jurisdictions who were eventually present.

“At the end of the day our job is to report the facts. We don’t have all the answers. We’re not there yet”.

But in laying out a preliminary timeline of the shooting, he did indicate that the gunman appeared to have been able to gain entry to the school through an unlocked back door, and that, contrary to earlier reports, there was no armed police officer on duty at the campus when the shooter walked in and began Tuesday’s deadly rampage that killed 19 students and two teachers.

“The majority of the gunfire was in the beginning,” Escalon said, adding that officers first on the scene prioritized calling for back up and trying to evacuate students and children.

“He did not respond [to officers trying to speak to him],” Escalon said.

Escalon ended the briefing by promising to get back to the media when he had more information to give.

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

The chief question arising from that brief briefing is why law enforcement did not enter the school and try to save children in the hour between the gunman entering the school and his being killed by a SWAT team from Customs and Border Protection.

Victor Escalon of the Texas Department of Public Safety did not discuss what happened in that hour in any detail.

He did say “the majority of the gunfire was in the beginning” and said the gunman then fired to keep officers at bay but did not respond to attempts to negotiate. He also said officers made efforts to evacuate other children and teachers.

Escalon’s words might suggest that most of the children who were killed were killed shortly after the gunman entered the room. Nonetheless, officers seem not to have attempted to take the gunman down.

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

Escalon answers questions.

It appears the door to the school the gunman used was unlocked, he says.

The majority of the gunfire was in the beginning,” Escalon says. The gunman then fired to keep officers at bay but did not respond to attempts to negotiate.

There was not a readily available armed officer at the school when the gunman arrived, Escalon says.

At 11.30am the PD got a crash and a man with a gun and you have responding officers.”

He can’t say yet what happened in the next 10 minutes with certainty, he says, adding: “There’s a lot of possibilities.”

All the officers who were present need to be interviewed, Escalon says, asked about questions about what was done to stop the shooting which are growing with the hour.

A British reporter asks: “Is it accurate eyewitnesses were urging police to go in while a SWAT team was awaited, and even asking to borrow police armour to go in and try to rescue their children themselves?”

“I’ve heard that information that we have not verified it,” Escalon says.

Questions are shouted but Escalon has no answers. He says he needs time.

That briefing didn’t clear up much about how police responded to the shooting.

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

Victor Escalon, regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, begins the briefing. He says law enforcement are “hurting inside”, as are other officials and of course the victims and family members and describes how an investigation works.

He recounts what is known about the shooting.

Salvador Ramos’s grandmother is still alive, Escalon says, in stable condition after being shot in the face.

The shooter entered Robb elementary school at 11.40am, after shooting at the building and “numerous rounds are discharged inside the school”. Four minutes later, Uvalde police are inside. They take rounds, move back and get cover, and call for additional resources, as the gunman enters a classroom.

Escalon says that during the time the calls for help are being made, officers are also evacuating teachers and students.

Approximately an hour later, Escalon says, US Border Patrol tactical teams arrive and shoot and kill the suspect.

Now it turns into a rescue operation, he says, the officers asking themselves, “How do we save these children?”

Escalon says reports the gunman was confronted by an officer on the way into the school are not accurate.

He says he will take questions.

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

A briefing has begun in Uvalde. We’ll follow it here.

The chief of the Uvalde police department, Daniel Rodriguez, has just issued a statement defending his officers over the response time to the Robb elementary school shooting.

Rodriguez said officers “responded within minutes” and that several of them received non-life threating gunshot wounds from the suspect.

A press conference in Uvalde is scheduled to begin within the next 15 minutes or so, and you can expect questions about the timeline of the massacre.

NEW: The chief of the Uvalde Police Department has a released a statement saying his officers responded “within minutes” along with school officers. “I know answers will not come fast enough,” he said. pic.twitter.com/8m7GvLZQo0

— Tony Plohetski (@tplohetski) May 26, 2022

Read more:

More desperately sad news from Uvalde, as if things weren’t bad enough already:

Joe Garcia, the husband of Irma Garcia, one of two teachers shot and killed in Uvalde, TX on Tuesday, has reportedly suffered a fatal heart attack. Joe and Irma were high school sweethearts and married 24 years. They leave behind four children. pic.twitter.com/Rlk0M2B8nR

— Ernie Zuniga (@Ernie_Zuniga) May 26, 2022

His death was confirmed on Twitter by Garcia’s nephew John Martinez, who asked for prayers for his family:

EXTREMELY heartbreaking and come with deep sorrow to say that my Tia Irma’s husband Joe Garcia has passed away due to grief, i truly am at a loss for words for how we are all feeling, PLEASE PRAY FOR OUR FAMILY, God have mercy on us, this isn’t easy pic.twitter.com/GlUSOutRVV

— john martinez ❤️‍🔥 (@fuhknjo) May 26, 2022

Here’s more on Joe Garcia and this tragic, apparently deadly case of broken heart syndrome.

Republicans in the senate have, as expected, blocked the domestic terrorism prevention bill that passed the Democratic-controlled House last week.

Chuck Schumer, the senate majority leader, changed his vote to no in a procedural move so he can bring the measure back again. Senators voted 47-47, well short of the 60 votes needed for it to advance.

The bill was seen as the Democrats’ opening attempt to pass some kind of gun restrictions following the massacre of 10 Black people by a white supremacist gunman at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, almost two weeks ago.

It would have established a new domestic terrorism office at the homeland security department that would track and analyze domestic terrorist activity, and require regular reporting of threats from white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Republicans argued the bill was partisan and not needed because of existing laws to tackle domestic terrorism.

One of the hosts responding to the Texas shooting on late-night TV on Wednesday, Jimmy Kimmel, became visibly upset as he did so.

“Once again, we grieve for the little boys and girls whose lives have been ended and whose families have been destroyed,” he said.

While the right will “warn us not to politicise” the shooting, Kimmel added, it’s important to remember “they know what they’ve done and they know what they haven’t done”.

The “very least we can do” is insist upon background checks for those seeking to purchase a gun, a law that has been stalled in Congress.

“They won’t pass it because our cowardly leaders just aren’t listening to us, they’re listening to the NRA, they’re listening to those people who write them checks who keep them in power,” Kimmel said.

“If your solution to children being massacred is armed guards, you haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on,” the host said before reminding viewers of the many times armed guards and police officers have not prevented school shootings.

Kimmel then zeroed in on the Texas senator Ted Cruz, who is scheduled to speak at an NRA event in Houston this weekend.

“I refuse to believe he’s unaffected by this,” he said. “He’s not a monster, he’s a human being.”

To Cruz and the many others who refuse to recognise the danger of guns, Kimmel said: “It’s OK to admit you made a mistake, it’s not just OK, it’s necessary.”

He continued: “Do I think these men are brave people? No I don’t but man I would love it if these guys surprised me.”

Kimmel also said “it isn’t a time for moments of silence, this is a time to be loud”, before reminding viewers there have been 27 US school shootings this year and it’s still only May.

“How does this make sense to anyone?” he asked. “These are our children.”



Texas officials deflect questions on ‘missing hour’ when gunman was in school – latest updates | Texas school shooting Source link Texas officials deflect questions on ‘missing hour’ when gunman was in school – latest updates | Texas school shooting

Related Articles

Back to top button