Local officials say U.S. border patrol agents have been delayed in pursuing the gunman who killed 21 people at a Texas school.
Local police were not only slow to deal with the gunman who killed 19 children and two adults in Tuesday’s Texas school massacre, they also reportedly refused to allow federal agents to confront the gunman about an hour after they arrived at the scene.
Specially equipped U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents, who arrived at the primary school in Uvalade, Texas, between noon and 12:10 p.m., local police did not allow them to enter the adjoining classroom where the shooter locked himself. Just before 1 p.m., the New York Times reported on Friday, citing unnamed federal officials.
When federal agents arrived at the school, they saw a chaotic scene, with people dragging children through windows and police trying to secure a fence. Agents, who came to the school “Longer than you know,” The Times said they did not immediately understand why the gunman was not allowed to charge.
“We were told to wait,” A border patrol official told Yahoo News on Friday. “We were told to wait and wait, and the team wanted to go. But you have to understand, the CBP is not the main body, so they had to wait, and now see what happened. “
Uvalde is located about 80 miles west of San Antonio, on the U.S.-Mexico border. The incident began on Tuesday when a 911 caller reported seeing a man with a gun outside Rob Elementary School in Uwald. The gunman, identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, entered the school through an open door around 11:40 a.m.
Instead of immediately confronting the gunman in need of policing protocol in the case of an active gunman, 19 officers stood in the hallway outside a fourth-grade classroom where Ramos locked himself, Texas Director of Public Safety Steven McCraw told reporters Friday. After more than 45 minutes of ticking, students desperately called 911 for help inside the classroom, using the phone of a dead teacher in at least one case.
At the time, the school district police chief, Pete Aredondo, thought there was no threat to other children inside the room, assuming the suspect barricaded himself, so officers waited for tactical gear before breaking the locked door. Eventually, after a doorman unlocked the door, officers went inside, and members of the CBP tactical team were reported to have killed the gunman.
“In hindsight, where I’m sitting now, it certainly wasn’t the right decision.” McCrae said. “It simply came to our notice then. There is no excuse for that. But again, I’m not there, but I’m just telling you, from what we know, we believe you should have entered as soon as possible. “ He added that while there was no risk of more children being shot – an assessment that proved to be incorrect – there could be injured people whose lives could have been saved if they had been treated quickly.
Police initially tried to enter the classroom but returned after the shooting, the Times reported. Two officers were injured. It was not clear to CBP agents why their team was needed and the local SWAT team did not respond.
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There were multiple media reports of parents being handcuffed at the scene after they requested police outside the school to save their children. Javier Cajares, whose daughter Jacqueline was killed, said he was one of five or six fathers who heard gunshots from inside the school and told police to return. “We wanted to storm the building,” Cajars told the Washington Post. “We were saying, ‘Let’s go,’ because we were so worried, and we wanted to get our kids out.”