The father of a child shot dead in Robb Elementary School in Texas on Tuesday has said that police “let our babies get slaughtered”.
An 18-year-old gunman opened fire and killed 21 people before he was shot dead. The 18-year-old suspect had a handgun, an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, and high-capacity magazines, investigators say.
The teenager is suspected of shooting his grandmother before the carnage.
In the aftermath of the shooting, attention has turned to local law enforcement’s delayed response to the shooting, which has faced widespread criticism from people across the world, including some of the victims’ family members.
Jesse Rodriguez, who 10-year-old daughter Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez died in the shooting, slammed the response from police in remarks to Houston-based television news station KHOU.
“They let our babies get slaughtered. Sacrificed,” he said. “While their a**** were sitting behind a wall. You know what, that doesn’t help our children. We need to find out who’s accountable for all this.”
Texas’ top law enforcement official admitted on Friday that officers made key errors when responding to the shooting.
Police officers did not act sooner to stop the 18-year-old gunman rampaging at Robb Elementary School because the school district’s chief of police wanted to wait for backup and equipment, said Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Meanwhile, students were still trapped inside with the gunman, repeatedly calling 911 for help.
By the time a specialised team of federal officers arrived and entered the school — they had to get keys from a janitor to open locked classroom doors — more than an hour had passed since the shooter had arrived at the school, McCraw admitted.
McCraw also said that the gunman entered the school through a back door that minutes before had been swung open by a teacher. He said a police officer employed by the school district responded to an initial 911 call about an armed man near the school — but drove past the gunman, who was “hunkered down” behind a vehicle, and mistook a teacher for the shooter.
Uvalde police received the first call around 11.20 am on Tuesday, when the gunman’s grandmother called 911 to report that he had shot her in the face at her home, located about two minutes from Robb Elementary.
Also Read: Texas school shooter’s violent history: ‘He was scary’
The shooter fled in his grandmother’s pickup truck and crashed it in a ditch near the school at 11.28 am. He was carrying 58 magazines and 1,657 rounds of ammunition, McCraw said.
He added the gunman fired at two passersby on the street, then went to the school, where he fired shots at the building from outside before entering the building at 11.33 am through a back door that a teacher had left propped open.
Once inside, the gunman entered a pair of connected classrooms where he shot dead 19 children and two teachers and wounded 17 others. McCraw said the gunman fired more than 100 rounds at that point. He fired at least 186 rounds from the time he crashed his vehicle outside the school to the moment he was killed.
Local police officers quickly arrived at the school and entered two minutes after the gunman at 11.35 am, McCraw said, but fell back after two officers were shot and wounded by the gunman. Officers tried to negotiate with the shooter, officials have said, but the man “did not respond.”
McCraw said the commander on site at that point treated the situation as a “barricaded suspect” case and thought children were no longer at risk, which McCraw also called a mistake.
Also Read: What 911 calls show about police response to Uvalde shooting
Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abott said on Friday he was “misled” about what happened in the Uvalde school massacre, causing him to initially share inaccurate information with the public.
“I am livid about what happened,” Abbott said during a news conference in Uvalde. “The information I was given turned out, in part, to be inaccurate, and I am absolutely livid about that.”
In his first news conference after the shooting, Abbott had praised praised how police handled the shooting, applauding their “amazing courage.
“It could have been worse. The reason it was not worse is because law enforcement officials did what they do,” he said Wednesday. how police handled the shooting, applauding their “amazing courage.”