New details about police officers’ actions during a school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two teachers are raising questions ― and calls for a federal inquiry.
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) on Thursday asked Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Chris Wray to examine local law enforcement’s response to shooting at Robb Elementary School, noting in particular that state officials’ accounts of what transpired conflicts with what parents and witnesses say actually happened.
That starts with a hazy timeline of the attack itself. While Uvalde Police Chief Daniel Rodriguez said officers responded to the scene “within minutes,” what happened next is unclear.
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said Wednesday that after the shooter opened fire on a school security officer, a full 40 minutes to an hour passed before a U.S. Border Patrol team burst into a classroom and fatally shot the gunman.
A different spokesman disputed that account, however, suggesting the “40 minutes” began when the shooter shot his grandmother earlier in the day, then stole her truck and drove to Robb Elementary School.
Agonizing video from outside the school shows distraught parents pleading with police officers over the seeming lack of action.
“We were wondering, ‘What the heck is going on? Are they going in?’” Derek Sotelo, who works at a tire shop near the school, told The New York Times. “The dads were saying, ‘Give me the vest, I’ll go in there!’”
At one point, federal marshals reportedly handcuffed one of the parents ― a mother whose two children were inside the building. Once freed, she proceeded to hop the school fence, enter the building and sprint out with her kids.
Official statements have also varied on whether or not the gunman exchanged fire with the school security officer outside the school, and how long the gunman was barricaded inside a classroom before police could gain entry, both of which Rep. Castro mentioned in his letter to the FBI Thursday.
The congressman added that an additional block of time between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. also has yet to be fully accounted for.
Asked to account for the gap at a press conference Thursday, Victor Escalon of Texas Department of Public Safety offered only, “We will circle back on that.”