Texas authorities announced Thursday afternoon that the shooter who killed 19 children and two elementary school teachers this week entered the school safely. Victor Escalon, regional director for the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the shooter entered Robb Elementary in the town of Uvalde through a door that was apparently unlocked.
The announcement came amidabout how long it took for authorities to stop the rampage. The motive of – the deadliest in the country since Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut, a decade ago – also remained under investigation, with authorities saying 18-year-old Salvador Ramos had no known criminal or mental health history.
During the siege, which ended when a US Border Patrol team burst in and shot the shooter, frustrated onlookers urged officers to charge into the school, witnesses said.
In a statement Thursday, Uvalde Police Chief Daniel Rodriguez said officers responded to the shooting “within minutes.” Escalon said local officers entered the school, were fired upon and took cover.
“I know words will never ease the pain we all go through,” Rodriguez said, “but I hope you’ll join me in finding some comfort in knowing that the pain comes from the fact that we all have such deep love for all the victims who have been taken from us, those who are recovering and those whom only time and love will continue to heal.”
On Wednesday, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said 40 minutes to an hour had passed from whenopened fire on a school security guard until the tactical team shot him. On Thursday, Escalon said the shooter was not confronted by an officer before entering the school.
Investigators were going through video footage from inside and outside the school, Escalon said.
Before Tuesday’s attack, the gunman shot and wounded his grandmother in the house they shared. Escalon said Thursday that she was alive and in stable condition.
The shooter then crashed his truck into a ditch outside the school, grabbed his AR-15 type semi-automatic rifle and shot two people outside a funeral home, who walked away escaped unharmed, Escalon said.
The shooter scaled a fence and opened fire on the school from a parking lot. He then entered the school at 11:40 a.m. and fired “many rounds”, Escalon said.
“Four minutes later, the local police departments … are inside, making their entrance,” Escalon said. “They hear gunshots. They make rounds. They back up, take cover and meanwhile they approach where the suspect is.”
He said the officers did not initially enter the classroom the shooter entered because he shot them. Officers called for reinforcements and began evacuating the rest of the school.
“There’s a lot going on,” Escalon said.
Late Thursday afternoon, the White House announced that President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden would travel to Uvalde on Sunday “to mourn with the community.” Details of the Bidens’ visit will be released in the coming days, the White House said.