The evolving narrative of what happened at Uvalde the day of the shooting
UVALDE, Texas — Confusion abounds in this city as authorities work to figure out the exact timeline for the shooting at Robb Elementary School.
Law enforcement attempted to clarify details Thursday, but as the investigation continues, more questions are being raised. At the heart of this uncertainty are questions over just how long the shooter was inside the school's fourth grade classroom before law enforcement went inside to confront him and kill him.
Parents and relatives of students at the school and victims of the shooting believe police waited far too long to go inside, wasting precious moments.
Lucinda Velazquez, the great-aunt of one of the children who was injured in the shooting, told NPR that she rushed to the school as soon as she heard about what happened.
What she saw made her angry.
"I was in the very front. All the cops were just there. All of them just there in the front and we were talking s*** to them to hurry up and move and go inside. And they say 'all you need to leave. All you need to leave,'" she said. "We don't give a s***. Y'all need to go inside do something. Stop him."
Since the shooting Tuesday, officials have provided few details or contradictory information about the timeline of the massacre. The investigation is still ongoing, video evidence is still being reviewed, and the responding police officers still need to be interviewed, according to Victor Escalon, the regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Escalon was speaking Thursday during a press conference.
A congressman requests a federal investigation
The timeline has been so contradictory that Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from nearby San Antonio, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray urging the agency to "use its maximum authority to examine the timeline of events around the Uvalde school shooting and the law enforcement response."
Castro wrote, "The people of Uvalde, of Texas, and of the nation deserve an accurate account of what transpired. However, state officials have provided conflicting accounts that are at odds with those provided by witnesses..."
He went on to write, "Moreover, a block of time between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. local time has yet to be fully accounted for. Onlookers allege that parents unsuccessfully urged law enforcement to enter the building during this time and confront the shooter."
In an interview with NPR, Castro said he would like the investigation to uncover the shooter's motive and the inconsistencies in the retellings of what happened.
"After hearing the conflicting accounts by state authorities, my confidence is shaken," Castro said. "I think, just like a lot of Americans who had watched those press conferences ... I think many folks would feel more comfortable if the FBI took the lead in this investigation."
Castro said he expected to meet with Wray on Thursday night.
The gunman met no resistance entering the school
Since Wednesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has offered praise to law enforcement for their "quick response" that saved lives. But new details Thursday shed light on what police were doing as the gunman entered the school, and the fact that it took at least an hour for a tactical unit to make entry into the building.
At 11:28 a.m., Salvador Ramos crashed his grandmother's pick up truck near the school, according to Escalon. Ramos walked from his truck toward the school, firing his weapon at nearby witnesses. In that time, a 911 call is made about a man with a gun.
Officials, including Gov. Abbott, previously said a school resource officer outside the school "engaged" with the shooter before he entered an apparently unlocked door. That is incorrect, Escalon clarified. At 11;40 a.m., the gunman entered the school "unobstructed" and did not exchange fire with police before entering the building.
Once local police agencies arrived at the school, Ramos (from inside) fired at them, Escalon said. These officers then retreated and awaited further assistance from units outside Uvalde.
Escalon said it took an hour for an armed tactical team to go inside and confront the shooter. By that time Ramos had shot dozens of students, killing 19 fourth graders and two adults, and injuring 17 other individuals.
A shortage of facts
The frustration over not knowing specific details of Tuesday's timeline is shared among all parents in the Uvalde community, Alex Covarrubias told NPR.
"We should know exactly what's going on," he said while standing by a street in town holding a "Uvalde Strong" sign.
Based on the information that's being released of when police actually confronted the gunman, he said: "I feel like they did take a little too long."
Covarrubias, a parent to a baby and a 14-year-old, said he showed up to Robb Elementary as soon as he heard there was an active shooter on campus.
By the time he got there, there was a sizable group already watching and waiting. He said he saw police going in and out of the school at that point.
But now he's hearing from others in town that parents were begging to go into the school while police waited. He also watched videos posted online of police standing outside and parents yelling to be allowed to get their children.
Escalon said he did hear about parents alleging they were held back from being allowed to go inside, but didn't have enough information about that yet.
Covarrubias said he can understand that feeling as a parent himself.
"I feel like, man, if they can't do it, we'll do it. Like, even though if I lose my life, so as long as I try, that's what matters," he said. "And that's what's heartbroken about the community, that a lot of people wish that they would have helped."
Escalon is urging patience as the investigation is ongoing, "Look, at the end of the day our job is to report the facts, and have those answers. We're not there yet."
NPR's Adrian Florido and Ayana Archie contributed to this report.
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