Speed Reads

Thin blue line

Texas police struggle to explain delay in stopping Uvalde shooter, other than 'they could have been shot'

Texas state police on Thursday updated their timeline of how the Uvalde school massacre unfolded, retracting some key information they had provided Wednesday. Texas Department of Public Security officials disclosed, for example, that the gunman wasn't actually confronted by a school police officer before entering Robb Elementary School. Their new timeline, The Associated Press reports, was most "notable for unexplained delays by law enforcement."

Here's what police now say happened on Tuesday:

  • 11:28 a.m. Gunman crashes his truck near Robb Elementary School, exits with military-style rifle, fires at bystanders.
  • 11:40 a.m. Gunman enters the school through apparently unlocked back door. "He walked in unobstructed," said DPS regional director Victor Escalon.
  • 11:44 a.m. Uvalde and school district police arrive but can't enter the school initially "because of the gunfire they're receiving," Escalon said.
  • 12:45 p.m. Border Patrol tactical team arrives and prepares to breach the classroom door. "What we wanted to make sure is to act quickly, act swiftly," Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz told Fox News.
  • 12:58 p.m. Gunman has been shot dead, radio chatter indicates, after murdering 19 children and two teachers.

"What happened in those 90 minutes," AP reports, "has fueled mounting public anger and scrutiny over law enforcement's response to Tuesday's rampage."

"They said they rushed in and all that, we didn't see that," said Javier Cazares, whose 9-year-old daughter, Jacklyn, was killed while he was outside urging the police to let him storm the school. "There were plenty of men out there armed to the teeth that could have gone in faster. This could have been over in a couple minutes."

It wasn't an issue of insufficient force — there were about 100 federal agents plus local police officers on the scene, CNN says, and Uvalde has its own heavily armed SWAT team.

"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," Ken Trump, president of the National School Safety and Security Services consultancy, told AP

CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked DPS spokesperson Lt. Chris Olivarez about that on Thursday. Olivarez said police in the building "had the suspect contained inside the classroom." The officers "are hearing gunshots, they are receiving gunshots," he said, and "if they proceeded any further not knowing where this suspect was at, they could have been shot. They could have been killed, and at that point, that gunman would have had the opportunity to kill other people inside that school." 

That answer did not paint the local in the bravest light. But it did bolster the argument against allowing the sale of military-style rifles to civilians, journalist Katelyn Burns argues.