Police Criticized Over Texas School Shooting Response

Police Criticized Over Texas School Shooting Response

Law enforcement officials are under immense scrutiny over their response to the Texas school shooting.

On Tuesday, an 18-year-old gunman entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas around 11:40 am, killing 21 people and left 17 injured. According to the Associated Press, the shooter was in the building for over an hour until being killed by US Border Patrol officers at 12:58 pm, but not before murdering two teachers and nineteen students between the ages of 9 and 11, all of whom were shot inside their classrooms.

In the days since, authorities and witnesses have been providing conflicting information on what happened during the tragedy, particularly concerning police response. Despite initially claiming a school resource officer "engaged" with the shooter outside the building, officials since clarified the timeline, placing the gunman at his grandmother's house, where he shot her before driving a truck into a ditch and walking into the school. They also stated that there was actually no school resource officer on campus at the time, per CNN.

"He walked in unobstructed initially," Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Victor Escalon said, adding that no one "confronted" the shooter, who accessed the building through a door that was supposed to be locked. Escalon went on to say that officers arrived four minutes after the shooting began but weren't able to pursue the gunman, as he was also shooting at them. During that time, Escalon said officers were evacuating students and faculty members and calling for backup.

As news of the active shooting spread, worried parents gathering outside of the school and reportedly became angry with a perceived lack of police action. According to several parents speaking to The Wall Street Journal, officers then began handcuffing, tackling and pepper-spraying them after they begged them to do something.

Making matters worse was a story told to local news reporters by a fourth-grade survivor, who said an officer instructed them to "'yell if you need help.'" However, a classmate's plea for help apparently attracted the attention of the gunman, who then "came in and shot her."

In response to these reports, online commenters derided the police for their handling of the situation, alleged inaction and ineptitude, as well as the way they spread incorrect information in initial statements. Joining the chorus of frustrated critics was Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro, who later issued a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking for an investigation into police conduct during the shooting.

"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," Castro wrote, before noting that there's a 90-minute block of time that has "yet to be fully accounted for."

"I urge the FBI to use its maximum authority to thoroughly examine the timeline of events and the law enforcement response and to produce a full, timely, and transparent report on your findings," he continued. "Your agency must ensure that the American people have a complete and comprehensive account of how this tragedy occurred."

Read Castro's statement below.

Photo via Getty / Allison Dinner / AFP