Questions are being asked about how long it took before police stormed a Texas elementary school classroom to end a rampage by a gunman inside.
Texas Department of Public Safety director Steve McCraw said 40 minutes to an hour passed between the time Salvador Ramos opened fire on the school security guard and the time a tactical team shot him down.
At the time, 21 people – 19 students and two teachers – were killed.
And the community is now demanding to know all the details of what exactly happened during that time.
Their questions come as it emerges that the husband of one of the deceased teachers has also died – less than 48 hours after the tragedy.
Joe Garcia had been married to high school sweetheart Irma Garcia for 24 years before she was shot Tuesday at Robb Elementary in Uvalde.
“I don’t even know how to feel. I don’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it” that Joe Garcia has died, Irma’s nephew John Martinez told Sky’s US partner NBC News.
It is believed he suffered a heart attack after going to his wife’s memorial to lay flowers there. A relative said on a social media post that he thought Joe had ‘died of a broken heart’ after losing the ‘love of his life of over 30 years, it was too much to bear’.
The couple had four children.
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A Texas law enforcement official said the 18-year-old shooter entered safely through an apparently unlocked door.
After entering the school, Ramos barricaded himself in a classroom and began killing.
Another official said Border Patrol agents had trouble opening the classroom door and had to ask a staff member to open the room with a key.
In the meantime, it was reported, one of the victim’s fathers had become so frustrated with the seemingly elapsed time that he threatened to ‘rush’.
Javier Cazares, whose daughter, Jacklyn Cazares, was killed in the attack, said he rushed to school when he heard about the shooting, and arrived as the police were still gathered outside.
Upset that the police did not intervene, he raised the idea of charging into the school with several other passers-by.
“The police were not prepared”
“Let’s go fast because the cops aren’t doing anything like they’re supposed to,” he said. “More could have been done.”
“They weren’t prepared,” he added.
A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety later said authorities could not give a solid estimate of how long the shooter had been in the school.
“The bottom line is that law enforcement was there,” McCraw said. “They engaged immediately. They contained (Ramos) in the classroom.”
Uvalde Police Chief Daniel Rodriguez said officers responded “within minutes” and said he felt it was “important for our community to know”.
“The answers will not come fast enough”
He said an investigation was underway into all aspects of the Texas Rangers shooting, adding: “I understand that questions are arising regarding the details of what happened.
“I know the answers won’t come fast enough during this difficult time, but rest assured that with the completion of the full investigation, I will be able to answer any questions we can.”
In the wake of yet another mass shooting, gun safety advocates are now pushing President Joe Biden to take tougher action to curb the violence.
On Thursday, they spoke with representatives of the White House and urged the president to appoint a czar of gun violence.
They also called on Mr. Biden to issue an emergency declaration on gun violence (a situation in which a government is empowered to put in place policies that it would not normally be authorized to carry out), to issue an executive order (a document signed, written and issued directive by the President) on background checks for gun purchases, and advocates the lifting of the Senate filibuster if necessary (the rule that requires at least 60 votes in the Senate to 100 seats to pass most laws).
14 acres of guns
The National Rifle Association (NRA) said it will continue its annual convention in Houston, Texas over this upcoming holiday weekend.
It promises to feature “over 14 acres of the latest guns and equipment”.
He posted a message of condolence to the victims of Uvalde on his convention website.
It read: “Our deepest condolences go out to the families and victims involved in this horrific and evil crime.
“On behalf of our members, we salute the courage of school officials, first responders and others who have offered their support and services.
“Although an investigation is ongoing and facts are still emerging, we recognize that this is the act of a lone and deranged criminal.
“As we gather in Houston, we will reflect on these events, pray for the victims, recognize our patriotic members and pledge to redouble our commitment to securing our schools.”
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