- Texas officials have changed their statements about the mass shooting at Robb Elementary on Thursday at least 12 times.
- Police initially claimed a school officer confronted the shooter, but returned a few days later.
- Now authorities say 19 officers were ready to confront the suspect but were called back by a commander on the scene.
On Friday, Texas officials again made crucial changes to their timeline of the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, adding to the lack of clarity about how the massacre unfolded and the response of the police on the attack.
From the initial reports of Tuesday’s shooting to the latest press briefing by Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw, police have changed the narrative of how law enforcement responded to the rampage of a gunman during which he killed 19 children and two teachers.
In the face of harsh criticism from parents, McCraw said a police commander responsible for the scene — Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo — refused to send officers to stop the shooting, calling the decision “wrong”.
Here are the key detail changes that law enforcement officials have proposed since the shooting:
Uvalde police initially said the shooter was in custody
In one of the first statements about the shooting, the Uvalde Police Department said on Facebook that the shooter was in custody.
“Update @ 1:06 The shooter is in custody,” said the department said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
The department later revealed that a US Border Patrol tactical team shot the shooter inside Robb Elementary.
No one actually confronted the shooter before he entered
At a press conference Wednesday, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said a “brave resource officer” engaged with the shooter.
“At this time, no shots were exchanged, but the subject was able to enter the school,” McCraw said.
However, on Thursday Escalon said that was incorrect.
“There was not an officer readily available and armed,” Escalon told a news conference.
And on Friday, McCraw added that the resource officer was not even on school property when the shooting took place.
“There was discussion early on that an ISD…confronted the suspect. That didn’t happen. It was certainly said in the preliminary interviews, but often those preliminary interviews…the witnesses are wrong “, said McCraw on Friday.
“The bottom line is that the officer was not at the scene, not on campus, but heard the 911 call about the man with the gun, immediately drove to the area , sped towards what he thought was the man with the gun, in the back of the school, at what turned out to be a teacher and not the suspect,” McCraw continued.
McCraw added that the school policeman actually drove past the shooter, who was hiding behind a car.
How quickly the shooter entered the school
Police were consistent in the details of the shooter’s attack on his grandmother before the shooting and crash near a funeral home opposite the school at 11.28am on Tuesday.
But police first said the shooter was confronted before entering the school. On Thursday, Escalon said the shooter fired outside the school and entered the school at 11:40 a.m., leaving a 12-minute window unexplained.
But on Friday, McCraw said the shooter actually entered the school at 11:33 a.m., three minutes after a teacher called 911 to report the accident and a gunman on school grounds.
Police arrived at the scene quickly but backed away for over an hour
At Wednesday’s press conference, McCraw said: “At the end of the day, law enforcement was there, they got involved immediately, they contained him in a classroom. They set up a tactical stack, in a very orderly fashion, and raped and assaulted the individual.”
Lt. Chris Olivarez Wednesday in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show underlined the speed of the police reaction. He said police responded “within a moment”.
He also said the officers “attempted without hesitation to enter this school”, but were stopped by the shooter who shot them.
But on Thursday, police said the shooter was not killed by a US Border Patrol agent until 12:40 p.m., raising questions about what happened in the roughly hour between the start of the shooting. and the death of the shooter.
According to new information from McCraw on Friday, three local police officers arrived at the school at 11:35 a.m., just two minutes after the shooter first entered the building and opened fire. Two of the cops were grazed by bullets as they entered the school, he added.
In the latter description, McCraw said police exchanged gunfire with the suspect until 11:44 a.m. At 11:51 a.m. a police sergeant and federal agent arrived and at 12:03 p.m. were 19 police in the hallway outside the classroom where the shooter was locked up.
Why didn’t the cops arrest the Texas school shooter?
On Wednesday, Olivarez said, police began breaking windows and evacuating people as the shooter was barricaded in the school until more heavily armed officers arrived and killed the shooter.
The first account did not specify how long it took. The one-hour discrepancy was revealed on Thursday.
When asked on Thursday why officers hadn’t shot the shooter while he was in the classroom with children, asked at the press conference why authorities hadn’t engaged sooner , Escalon replied, “That’s a tough question.”
He cited the need to evacuate people as a possible reason and added in defense of the officers that “a lot was going on” and it was “a complex situation”.
But parents began to share that cops outside the school refused to enter to arrest the shooter and restrained parents who tried to enter themselves.
“Nothing adds up,” local resident Jay Martin told The Wall Street Journal. “People are really frustrated because no one is coming out and telling us the real truth about what happened.”
Video from outside the school shows police holding back desperate parents who wanted to enter the school and save their children.
One woman, Gladys Castillon, told the Journal she pleaded with the police to be more proactive before the tactical unit arrived. Officers temporarily handcuffed a mother who tried to enter the school, the Journal reported.
The mother ended up jumping a fence and running into the school, pulling her two children to safety herself, according to the Journal.
Police had new details about the delay on Friday: McCraw pointed the blame at school police chief Arredondo, who he said ordered police not to engage the suspect because he thought the suspect was “barricaded” and “there were no more children at risk.”
McCraw – who was not at the scene at the time of the shooting and was not commanding the officers at the time – added: “Obviously from the information we have there were children in this class that were in danger and it was, in fact, still an active shooter situation.”
He noted that “Of course it wasn’t the right decision. It was the wrong decision. There’s no excuse for that.”
“When there’s an active shooter, the rules change,” McCraw said. “You do not have the time.”
The Uvalde School District did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
In fact, McCraw revealed that students inside the classrooms where the shooter was shooting called 911 nearly a dozen times during the shooting. A girl has twice pleaded with 911 to ‘send the police now’ after the shooter killed her teacher and some of her classmates.
According to the latest schedule provided by McCraw on Friday, police opened the locked classroom door with a key and shot and killed the shooter at 12:50 p.m. – 10 minutes later than originally planned.
Questions remain over police response
Police have given conflicting reports on the timing of the shooting, although law enforcement officials have noted that it is not unusual for a fuller account to form during the police investigation.
Still, press briefings by Texas authorities have often left reporters and the public with more questions than answers. Even Friday, it was unclear whether 911 dispatchers had alerted police to the scene of the children still trapped inside with the shooter and police did not say which ultimately convinced the tactical team to Break into the classroom and shoot the shooter.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott reacted on Friday to new information that emerged earlier on Friday regarding the police response to the mass shooting, saying, “I was misled.”
“I’m furious with what happened,” said Abbott, who days earlier had praised the response from law enforcement.
“As everyone has learned, the information given to me has been found to be partly inaccurate,” Abbott said. “And I’m absolutely livid about it.”