Police ‘wrong’ not to breach door during Texas shooting

1. Texas shooting
Mementos decorate a makeshift memorial for the shooting victims outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 28, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
UVALDE, United States — A top Texas security official said Friday that police were wrong to delay storming the classroom where a teen gunman was holed up with dead and wounded children — fueling fears that police inaction cost lives in Uvalde.اضافة اعلان

Police have come under intense criticism since Tuesday’s tragedy over why it took well over an hour to neutralize the gunman — who ultimately killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School.

“From the benefit of hindsight... it was the wrong decision, period,” Texas Department of Public Safety director Steven McCraw told an emotional news conference, at which his voice broke repeatedly as he was assailed by questions over the delay.

“From what we know, we believe there should have been an entry as soon as you can,” McCraw said, adding: “If I thought it would help, I’d apologize.”

McCraw revealed in harrowing detail a series of emergency calls — including by a child begging for police help — that were made from the two adjoining classrooms where the gunman was barricaded.

But in seeking to explain the delay, he also said the on-scene commander believed at the time that the 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos was in there alone, with no survivors, after his initial assault.

“I’m not defending anything, but you go back in the timeline, there was a barrage, hundreds of rounds were pumped in in four minutes, okay, into those two classrooms,” McCraw said.

“Any firing afterwards was sporadic and it was at the door. So the belief is that there may not be anybody living anymore.”

McCraw separately told reporters, however, that a 911 call received at 12:16pm — one of several made from inside the classrooms — reported eight or nine children still alive.

As many as 19 officers were outside the classroom door at that time, plus an unknown number of tactical team members who had just arrived, according to McCraw’s timeline.

The door was eventually opened at 12:50pm with keys provided by a janitor.

Texas Governor Gregg Abbott meanwhile told journalists who grilled him during a testy news conference Friday that he was given inaccurate information in the wake of the massacre.

“I was misled,” Abbott said. “The information that I was given turned out in part to be inaccurate, and I’m absolutely livid about that.”

NRA convention

The powerful National Rifle Association kicked off a major convention in Houston Friday, but a string of high-profile no-shows underscored deep unease at the timing of the gun lobby event.

Former president Donald Trump criticized calls for tightened gun controls in remarks at the three-day annual convention, held around four hours’ drive from Uvalde.

“The existence of evil in our world is not a reason to disarm law-abiding citizens,” Trump said. “The existence of evil is one of the very best reasons to arm law-abiding citizens.”

Thousands of gun enthusiasts descended on the event, filling a vast convention hall packed with booths displaying guns, walls of semi-automatic rifles and hunting products.

“This is it, this is the mega,” said a man in his 60s, as he handled a new rifle he was considering purchasing.

But with millions of Americans grieving and angry following the Uvalde shooting, “American Pie” singer Don McLean led a wave of dropouts from the event, while Abbott said he would no longer appear in person.

McLean said it would be “disrespectful and hurtful” to perform at the “Grand Ole Night of Freedom” concert scheduled during the convention on Saturday. At least five other country music stars, including Lee Greenwood and Larry Gatlin, have also reportedly pulled out.

Facing mounting scrutiny, the gun manufacturer Daniel Defense — which made the assault rifle purchased by Ramos — also decided to stay away.

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