Video taken outside the Texas school where 21 people were shot dead on Tuesday shows desperate parents screaming at law enforcement officers, pleading with them to enter the building where a gunman was raging inside.
The police force of Uvalde, Texas, is facing mounting scrutiny over their response to the shooting, with people asking whether officers could have saved more children if they’d stormed the building sooner. Uvalde Police Chief Daniel Rodriguez defended his department on Thursday, saying in a statement that officers responded “within minutes” and urging patience while they worked to nail down the timeline of events.
Authorities say a responding Border Patrol officer ultimately shot and killed the suspect, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos.
The video, which was authenticated by The Washington Post and Storyful, shows a handful of people confronting officers outside Robb Elementary School with growing frustration.
Ramos entered the building at about 11:40 a.m. local time on Tuesday, Texas Department of Public Safety regional director Victor Escalon later said. The bystander who took the video began filming at 11:54 a.m., and broadcast it live for an hour. The shooting was over by 1:06 p.m., according to police.
Escalon said Thursday that officers with the Uvalde Police Department and the school district put out a call for backup after making entry at 11:44 a.m. They were “taking gunfire,” handling “negotiations” and “developing a team to make entry to stop him,” he said, adding that Border Patrol arrived around an hour later.
“These cops are right here. Bro, there’s a fucking shooting at the school and these fucking cops are telling everybody to leave, dude, while everybody’s here trying to pick up their fucking kids,” the man who recorded the video can be heard saying. He originally posted the video to his Facebook page.
“They’re just all fucking parking outside, man ― they need to go in there,” the man says.
A woman who says her son was in the building can be heard yelling, “If they’ve got a shot, shoot him or something, fuck!”
“I’m going to go, I’m going to fucking go,” she says.
“The cops ain’t doing shit but standing outside,” the man filming says.
An officer can be seen screaming at a gathering of concerned civilians, pushing one man back and telling him to go stand across the street.
The man filming the video responds: “You know they’re little kids, right? They’re little kids, they don’t know how to defend themselves!”
The footage matches accounts from people at the scene, who have described fuming parents arguing with police outside the school.
“They were just angry,” 26-year-old Derek Sotelo, who works at a nearby tire shop, told The New York Times. “We were wondering, ‘What the heck is going on? Are they going in?’ The dads were saying, ‘Give me the vest, I’ll go in there!’”
Another video authenticated by Storyful shows a scene of utter chaos outside the school. Police are seen restraining a man who appears to be a civilian on the pavement, as other officers tell the crowd to move away and put up police tape. One officer brandishes what appears to be a Taser.
“Where’s my daughter?” one woman can be heard screaming above the sound of other panicked parents. Later, a woman crumples to the ground in tears as two other women try to comfort her.
“We’ve got guys going in to get kids! They’re working,” an officer assures the parents.
Texas Department of Public Safety director Steve McCraw said Wednesday that about 40 minutes to an hour passed between Ramos’ first shots at the school and his death, but another spokesperson told CNN on Thursday that they were still working to confirm the timeline.
While authorities initially said an armed school security officer exchanged fire with Ramos, they walked back that statement on Thursday, according to The Associated Press.