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Texas school shooting: official admits ‘wrong decision’ not to break into classroom sooner – latest updates | Texas school shooting

Texas officials: ‘No excuse for not tackling shooter’

The head of the Texas department of public safety has said “there’s no excuse” for officers not trying to break into an elementary school classroom where a gunman was killing 19 students and two teachers.

Steven McCraw was facing questions over law enforcement’s response to Tuesday’s shooting at Robb elementary, at a lunchtime briefing in Uvalde.

Reporters wanted to know why law enforcement officers waited outside for about an hour while the killing continued, and before a Swat team eventually breached the classroom and shot the killer dead.

Parents and locals pleaded with officers in vain to go in and end the massacre, even as the sound of gunshots was audible from outside.

“It was the wrong decision,” McCraw conceded.

“The on-scene commander at the time believed it had transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject,” he said, adding the commander thought “there were no children at risk”.

“Obviously, based upon the information we [now] have, there were children in that classroom at risk”.

Asked about a “40-minute gap” in which 911 operators were aware children were alive, but officers still didn’t go in, he added:

The decision was made that this was a barricaded subject, there was time to retrieve the keys and wait for a tactical team … that was the decision, that was the thought process.

With the benefit of hindsight, of course it was not the right decision, it was the wrong decision. Period. There’s no excuse for that.

Texas governor Greg Abbott will speak to the media a little later this afternoon about the Uvalde school shooting, but not all of his focus is there. Martin Pengelly and Charlie Scudder have this report:

Amid mounting fury over the National Rifle Association holding its convention in Houston three days after 19 children and two adults were shot dead at a school in Uvalde, the governor of Texas withdrew from speaking in person at the event.

Greg Abbott. Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA

Greg Abbott was still due to address the NRA by video, while visiting Uvalde and holding a press conference there.

The Republican governor stirred controversy by attending a political fundraiser on Tuesday, the day the shooting occurred. His staff then said he would suspend all political activity.

In a dramatic scene on Wednesday, as Abbott and others gave a briefing about Uvalde, they were confronted by Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate for governor.

O’Rourke, who is strongly pro-gun control, told Abbott: “This is on you.”

Abbott’s lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, withdrew from speaking to the NRA, saying he did not want “to bring any additional pain or grief to the families and all those suffering in Uvalde”.

Other prominent Republicans to withdraw included Dan Crenshaw, a congressman, and Senator John Cornyn. Cornyn is involved in negotiations in Washington over gun law reform, although a spokesperson said his withdrawal was for personal reasons.

Prominent Republicans still planning to speak included former president Donald Trump, the Texas senator Ted Cruz and the governor of South Dakota, Kristi Noem.

Cruz, a leading recipient of gun group donations, has maintained a high profile since the shooting, angrily clashing with one reporter who asked about gun reform.

Read the full story:

Charlie Scudder reports from Houston…

A series of speakers outside the NRA convention hall spoke to several hundred people through the early afternoon. Between speeches from politicians, people who lost loved ones to gun violence shared their stories.

One woman who introduced herself as Adrienne said her son died after being shot in a road rage incident on Halloween 2019.

“I had to bury my baby on his 19th birthday. No parent should have to have that. My son was my life,” she said. “I’m the one serving a life sentence, not the monster who shot my son.”

Protesters carry crosses with photos of victims of the shooting in Uvalde.
Protesters carry crosses with photos of victims of the shooting in Uvalde. Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP

The US representative Sheila Jackson Lee said she and democratic House leadership will consider bills on gun control in the coming weeks.

“I have no need to challenge your guns. I have no need to challenge the constitution,” she said. “We have heard your voices … I have been in the fight for [too] long.”

The Harris county judge, Lena Hidalgo, the primary executive in Houston, called on state legislators to pass similar measures.

“We should not make the grandmothers cry,” Hidalgo said. “You did not elect me to offer thoughts and prayers.”

Here’s our news story about this afternoon’s press conference in Uvalde, Texas, in which we learned that children inside classrooms at Robb elementary were frantically calling 911 for help as a gunman murdered their schoolmates, and up to 19 police officers stood outside in school hallways without intervening:

Democratic congressman Eric Swalwell of California, a vocal gun reform advocate, is furious that Republicans in the House are seeking to gain political capital out of the baby formula crisis, while refusing to back legislation to help prevent school shootings:

Interim Summary

Maya Yang

It’s been a busy day with developments on the Texas elementary school shooting as more details emerge.

Here’s where things stand:

  • The head of the Texas department of public safety has said “there’s no excuse” for officers not trying to break into the elementary school classroom as the gunman fired away.
  • The parents of the gunman have spoken out asking forgiveness, with the mother saying, “Forgive me, forgive my son” and the father saying, “I just want the people to know I’m sorry, man, [for] what my son did.”
  • Protestors, led by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, are calling for gun reforms are gathering in Houston where the National Rifle Association (NRA) will begin its annual conference later today, less than 300 miles from the scene of the Uvalde massacre.
  • Investigators are facing questioning over changing aspects of the shooting narrative as parents demand answers to why law enforcement were delayed in their responses.

More from Charlie Scudder in Houston…

A rally with speakers began around noon outside the Houston convention center.

Liz Hanks, with Moms Demand Action in Texas, lead a chant of “shame” toward the NRA Convention across the street.

“We are an embarrassment around the entire world because we cannot protect our children in our schools,” Hanks says. “We know how to fix this. Turn around and let them know how you feel.”

Overhead, a plane carried a banner: “NRA GO AWAY.”

Children hold photos of victims of the Robb elementary school shooting, outside the NRA convention.
Children hold photos of victims of the Robb elementary school shooting, outside the NRA convention. Photograph: Patrick T Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

David Hogg, a survivor of the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida in 2018, encouraged people to call their representatives in Congress to encourage a vote on gun control measures.

“I believe that this time can be different and will be different,” Hogg said. “The NRA is at its weakest point it has been in American history, ever.”

The barrage of questions at the press conference has taken its toll on Steven McCraw, head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the veteran officer broke down in tears:

Forget how I’m doing, it’s the parents, those children… forget about me and our officers, we take an oath to protect the people.

Asked if the parents were owed an apology, McCraw responded:

If I thought it would help, I’d apologize. We’re not here to defend what happened, we’re here to report the facts.

This is about finding facts as quick as we can…. for the citizens of Uvalde.

He then appeared to pass off responsibility to chief of police of the Uvalde independent school district, who, he told reporters, had control of the situation.

He was convinced at that time there was no more threat to the children, that the subject was barricaded, and they had time to organize with the proper equipment to go in.

You’re certainly welcome to reach out to them.

The lengthy press conference has wrapped, with McCraw saying he will welcome Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden on Sunday.

This community has been hit hard, it’s noble the president will be here to recognize the pain and suffering.

Charlie Scudder reports from Houston…

By noon on Friday, several hundred people protesting for stricter gun control had gathered across the street from the main entrance of the George R Brown Convention Center, where the NRA is holding its annual meeting.

Some groups, like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and the local Democratic party, set up booths to pass out signs and water and register voters. Many more people gathered in a scrum directly across from the convention hall, shouting into megaphones with chants like “Not one more” and “Vote them out”.

One group, holding wooden crosses for each Uvalde victim and wheeling a child-sized coffin, split off from the main group to march around a large city park.

They shouted: “Protect our kids, not guns.”

Protesters outside the NRA Convention.
Protesters outside the NRA Convention. Photograph: Charlie Scudder for the Guardian./Protesters outside the NRA Convention.

Among those who gathered was 73-year-old Nancy Harris. She carried in her pocket a handwritten list of 12 names, all people she knew who died from gun violence. Her daughter’s name was among them.

“I drove here from Fort Worth to tell these assholes to stop,” Harris said, her voice halting.

She said she didn’t know one the NRA was meeting in Houston until after the shooting in Uvalde. She stayed up for two nights, she said, hearing people say Americans needed to do something and wondering what she could do herself.

Asked why she had driven the four hours to protest the convention, she laughed.

“How many more of these do you intend to report on?” she told the Guardian. “How many more need to happen? … All I want is reasonable gun control. Reasonable background checks and eliminating military style weapons.”

McCraw said officers who responded were obliged to have tried to take the shooter down, regardless of the presence of a commander on the scene:

When there’s an active shooter, the rules change.

Texas embraces active shooter training, active shooter certification, and that doctrine requires officers, we don’t care what agency, you don’t have to have a leader on the scene, [that] every officer lines up, stacks up, goes and finds where those rounds are being fired, and keeps shooting until the subject is dead. Period.

Texas officials: ‘No excuse for not tackling shooter’

The head of the Texas department of public safety has said “there’s no excuse” for officers not trying to break into an elementary school classroom where a gunman was killing 19 students and two teachers.

Steven McCraw was facing questions over law enforcement’s response to Tuesday’s shooting at Robb elementary, at a lunchtime briefing in Uvalde.

Reporters wanted to know why law enforcement officers waited outside for about an hour while the killing continued, and before a Swat team eventually breached the classroom and shot the killer dead.

Parents and locals pleaded with officers in vain to go in and end the massacre, even as the sound of gunshots was audible from outside.

“It was the wrong decision,” McCraw conceded.

“The on-scene commander at the time believed it had transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject,” he said, adding the commander thought “there were no children at risk”.

“Obviously, based upon the information we [now] have, there were children in that classroom at risk”.

Asked about a “40-minute gap” in which 911 operators were aware children were alive, but officers still didn’t go in, he added:

The decision was made that this was a barricaded subject, there was time to retrieve the keys and wait for a tactical team … that was the decision, that was the thought process.

With the benefit of hindsight, of course it was not the right decision, it was the wrong decision. Period. There’s no excuse for that.

McCraw said: “I want to correct something that was said earlier on the investigation, that [the killer] posted on Facebook publicly that he was going to kill his grandmother and secondly he was going to shoot up a school.

“That didn’t happen,” McCraw said, adding that it was on a message to someone else.

On 14 March, the subject made an Instagram post saying “10 more days”, the director said, to which a respondent asked: “Are you going to shoot up a school.”

“Stop asking dumb questions and you’ll see,” Ramos allegedly replied.

Now it’s time for media questions …

McCraw is getting emotional as he recounts some of the 911 calls, including several from a female who, is a whisper, reported “multiple dead” in a classroom.

She said there were eight to nine students still alive, at that stage.

At 12.36pm, a 911 call that lasted for 21 seconds was received, from a student, who was told to stay on the line and stay quiet.

The student said: “Please send the police now.”

At 12.51pm, McCraw said, there was a loud noise, then what sounded on the call like officers were removing children from the room.

Three Uvalde police department officers entered the school at 11.35am, McCraw says, two minutes after the shooter entered using the same door.

Four more officers followed. Some of the officers received “grazing wounds”.

At 11.51am other agents arrived and at 12.03pm there were as many as 19 officers in the school hallway, he says.

He then gives a brief chronology of the next 40 or so minutes, more shots being fired, more officers, including a tactical team, arriving, and the breaching of a classroom door at 12.50pm using a key provided by a janitor.

It was at that point the shooter was taken down, McCraw says.

Now he’s going to give a timeline of 911 calls …



Texas school shooting: official admits ‘wrong decision’ not to break into classroom sooner – latest updates | Texas school shooting Source link Texas school shooting: official admits ‘wrong decision’ not to break into classroom sooner – latest updates | Texas school shooting

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