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Texas school shooting: officials hold press conference on Uvalde response – latest updates

Investigators facing questions over changing Uvalde narrative

Officials in Texas are today facing growing outrage over the law enforcement response to Tuesday’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, in which an 18-year-old gunman claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers.

It has emerged that the shooter was locked in a classroom at Robb elementary for a full hour before a Swat team broke in and killed him, during which frantic parents outside the school pleaded with officers to move in and end the massacre.

At a press conference Thursday that quickly went off the rails, Victor Escalon, regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS), was unable to explain why officers waited to storm the classroom.

Victor Escalon of the Texas Department of Public Safety addresses reporters on Thursday. Photograph: Dario Lopez-Mills/AP

Escalon also changed the official narrative of the shooting by admitting that there was not an armed officer at the school who confronted the gunman as he entered, and that the shooter was able to gain entry unchallenged, probably through an unlocked back door.

Earlier in the day, reporters were told that law enforcement engaged with killer Salvador Ramos as he went on to the campus with an AR-15 style assault weapon.

It was reported that one of the victims, a 10-year-old girl, was bleeding for an hour after being shot and died in hospital, although it is not known if an earlier intervention would have saved her life.

TDPS Lt Chris Olivarez was challenged about the delay on CNN last night, claiming that officers “could have been killed” had they rushed in:

The American people need to understand… officers are making entry into this building. They do not know where the gunman is. They are hearing gunshots. They are receiving gunshots.

At that point, if they proceeded any further not knowing where the suspect was at, they could’ve been shot, they could’ve been killed, and that gunman would have had an opportunity to kill other people inside that school.

The controversy has growing parallels with the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, where an on-site school resource officer, and other cops first on the scene, chose to wait outside instead of confronting the gunman. Several were later disciplined.

Joseph Giacalone, a law enforcement trainer and retired New York police department sergeant, said on CNN Friday morning that officers responding to an active shooter situation are obligated to move in at the first opportunity.

The idea is to neutralize them, at the very least draw attention away from the other potential victims towards the police.

You have to engage this guy immediately. And yes, you’re going to receive gunfire. That’s the idea behind it. It sounds crazy and it is, but unfortunately, that’s what has to be done.

Here’s my colleague Ed Pilkington’s story from last night on the police response to the Uvalde shooting:

McCraw said: “I want to correct something that was said earlier on the investigation, that [the killer] posted on Facebook publicly that he was going to kill his grandmother and secondly he was going to shoot up a school.

“That didn’t happen,” McCraw said, adding that it was on a message to someone else.

On 14 March, the subject made an Instagram post saying “10 more days”, the director said, to which a respondent asked “Are you going to shoot up a school”.

“Stop asking dumb questions and you’ll see,” Ramos allegedly replied.

Now it’s time for media questions…

McCraw is getting emotional as he recounts some of the 911 calls, including several from a female who, is a whisper, reported “multiple dead” in a classroom.

She said there were eight to nine students still alive, at that stage.

At 12.36pm, a 911 call that lasted for 21 seconds was received, from a student, who was told to stay on the line and stay quiet.

The student said: “Please send the police now”.

At 12.51pm, McCraw said, there was a loud noise, then what sounded on the call like officers were removing children from the room.

Three Uvalde police department officers entered the school at 11.35am, McCraw says, two minutes after the shooter entered using the same door.

Four more officers followed. Some of the officers received “grazing wounds”.

At 11.51am other agents arrived and at 12.03pm there were as many as 19 officers in the school hallway, he says.

He then gives a brief chronology of the next 40 or so minutes, more shots being fired, more officers, including a tactical team, arriving, and the breaching of a classroom door at 12.50pm using a key provided by a janitor.

It was at that point the shooter was taken down, McCraw says.

Now he’s going to give a timeline of 911 calls…

McCraw, using a map of the school as a prop, says the back door at Robb elementary school was left propped open by a teacher.

Salvador Ramos, the shooter, crashed his car outside the school and began firing at two men outside, who were not hurt.

A teacher saw a man with a gun and called 911, and then the shooter entered the school and began shooting in a classroom.

He said information that the gunman being confronted by a school resource officer was incorrect, confirming what reporters were told yesterday.

The SRO was not on campus, McCraw said, but “heard the 911 call… and sped to the school”. At this point the shooter was still outside and shooting towards the school.

He said there was an encounter between law enforcement and Ramos before he went in, which does seems to be new information.

McCraw said audio evidence showed Ramos fired “at least 100 rounds”.

A news briefing is under way in Uvalde, with Texas Department of Public Safety director Steven McCraw saying the Texas Rangers have control of the investigation.

He says he wants to provide “as much information as we can on where we are in the investigation”:

We’re here to report facts as we know them now, and not to defend what was done, or criticize what was done, or the action taken.

He begins with a timeline…

Parents of Uvalde gunman seek forgiveness

Maya Yang

The mother of the 18-year-old gunman who shot dead 19 young children and two teachers and wounded many others in an elementary school in the small town of Uvalde, Texas, this week has said: “Forgive me, forgive my son.”

Adriana Martinez looked distraught as she wept in her car, telling CNN affiliate Televisa, in Spanish: “I have no words to say, I don’t know what he was thinking.”

Her interview aired on Friday as questions continued to multiply over the actions of law enforcement three days ago during the shooting, with gaps in the timeline and bewilderment and anger about how the gunman was inside for about an hour as armed officers held back.

“He had his reasons for doing what he did. Please don’t judge him. I only want the innocent children who died to forgive me,” she said.

Earlier this week, Salvador Ramos, who had recently turned 18, shot his grandmother, badly wounding her, before storming into Robb elementary school in Uvalde, which has a population of less than 16,000 and lies between San Antonio and the Texas-Mexico border.

He was heavily armed and had a huge stash of ammunition, and killed 19 fourth-graders aged eight to 10 and two teachers with a semi-automatic rifle, wounding about 17 others. He was ultimately shot dead by a federal agent in a classroom in which he had barricaded himself with his victims.

When asked by a reporter what Martinez would tell the families who have lost loved ones, she replied: “Forgive me, forgive my son. I know he had his reasons.”

“What reasons could he have had?” the reporter followed up.

Martinez said, weeping: “To get closer to those children instead of paying attention to the other bad things, I have no words. I don’t know.”

Read the full story:

Democrats in the House of Representatives are launching an investigation into the “manufacture, marketing and sale” of AR-15 style assault rifles similar to that used by the Uvalde killer, and in numerous mass shootings in recent years.

Carolyn Maloney.
Carolyn Maloney. Photograph: Bill Clark/AP

New York congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, chair of the oversight and reform committee, has written to gun manufacturers including Bushmaster, Ruger and Smith & Wesson, seeking information.

In a statement released Friday, Maloney said she wrote the companies thus:

Our country faces an epidemic of gun violence, which is now the leading cause of death for children in the US.

I am deeply concerned that gun manufacturers continue to profit from the sale of weapons of war, including the AR-15 style assault rifle that a white supremacist used to murder 10 people last week in Buffalo, New York, and… reportedly used this week in the massacre of at least 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas.

Despite decades of rising gun deaths and mass murders using assault weapons, your company has continued to market assault weapons to civilians, reaping a profit from the deaths of innocent Americans.

A news conference is scheduled to begin within the next half-hour or so at which Texas Department of Public Safety officials are certain to face demands for a full explanation of the law enforcement response to Tuesday’s mass school shooting in Uvalde.

Yesterday’s briefing did not go well, with an officer unable to account for a “missing hour” between the gunman’s arrival at the school and his death, when a Swat team stormed the classroom he had barricaded himself into.

The agency will also likely be pressed on its changing timeline of the shooting, and contradictions over whether there was any engagement between law enforcement and the gunman before the massacre began.

Interestingly, the agency says today’s briefing will be hosted by Texas DPS director Steven McCraw, and not regional director Victor Escalon, who struggled to answer reporters’ questions yesterday.

The press conference is scheduled to begin at 11am CST (12pm eastern).

Happening Today: Friday, 5/27 at 11:00 a.m.
(Near Robb Elementary; Int. of Old Carrizo Rd. & Geraldine St.)

DPS will hold a press conference to provide an update on the deadly shooting that occurred at Robb Elementary School. DPS Director Steven McCraw will brief the media.

— Texas DPS (@TxDPS) May 27, 2022

Students across the country outraged by the latest school shooting are staging protests on campuses to demand legislative action in Washington DC over gun reforms.

Here are just some of them.

At Meridian high school in Falls Church, Virginia, students staged a die-in on their athletics field:

Falls Church, Virginia’s Meridian High School, where students held a die-in protest against gun violence in the middle of their athletic field. Reminds me of the walkouts that preceded the (first) March for Our Lives. That was four years ago. Video: WJLA. pic.twitter.com/Q4G44TP2t5

— Alejandro Alvarez (@aletweetsnews) May 26, 2022

At Francis Howell North high school in St Charles, Missouri, students say “thoughts and prayers” are not enough:

Very proud of my daughter & students at Francis Howell North (Missouri) for organizing a walk out to demand common sense gun laws and observe a moment of silence. She said “thoughts & prayers are not enough, we want to know we are safe at school” @StudentsDemand @HowellNorthFHSD pic.twitter.com/ajuztJ0BPi

— Christine Hyman (@chrisehyman) May 26, 2022

Frank Sanchez, principal of Columbia high school in Maplewood, New Jersey, says he “couldn’t be more proud” of his students for their walkout protest:

At Whitefish Bay high school in Wisconsin, students streamed out of the school building and on to their field:

There were similar scenes at Camden high school in Bucks county, New Jersey:

And at Michigan’s Oxford high school, where four students were killed in a shooting last November:

Students at Oxford High School in Michigan stage a walkout and form a giant “U” to honor the victims of the Uvalde, Texas elementary school shooting.

Four students were killed and several others injured last November at a shooting at Oxford High School. pic.twitter.com/lt3cNtvNQv

— The Recount (@therecount) May 26, 2022

The protests have the backing of high-ranking Democratic congressman Jamie Raskin, who says politicians are “setting young people up for disaster” with lax gun laws.

I strongly support students speaking up, rallying, walking out, chanting, demanding passage of gun safety. Any politician who favors compulsory school attendance along with easy gun laws is setting young people up for disaster. Senate must act!

— Rep. Jamie Raskin (@RepRaskin) May 27, 2022

Jonathan Freedland

Jonathan Freedland

The killing of 19 schoolchildren and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, has reignited the gun control debate in the US.

The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland speaks to the chief correspondent for the Washington Post, Dan Balz, about why, after yet another tragedy involving firearms, the Republican party is still unwilling to talk gun reform.

Listen to the Politics Weekly America podcast here:

Politics Weekly America

Texas school shooting overshadows primaries: Politics Weekly America

O’Rourke to lead anti-NRA protest in Houston

Protestors calling for gun reforms are gathering in Houston where the National Rifle Association (NRA) will begin its annual conference later today, less than 300 miles from the scene of the Uvalde massacre.

There’s outrage that the event is going ahead in the immediate aftermath of the Uvalde elementary school massacre in which a teenage gunman with an AR-15 style assault weapon killed 19 children and two teachers.

Donald Trump is the headline speaker, although a raft of other pro-gun Republicans will also be in attendance, including Texas senator Ted Cruz who stormed away from a television interview yesterday when asked why school shootings only seem to happen in America.

Texas governor Greg Abbott has cried off, presumably chastened by the outrage over the shooting in his state.

Beto O’Rourke confronts Texas governor Greg Abbott in Uvalde on Wednesday.
Beto O’Rourke confronts Texas governor Greg Abbott in Uvalde on Wednesday. Photograph: Veronica Cardenas/Reuters

But Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic challenger to Abbott in November, and who confronted the governor a testy press conference in Uvalde on Wednesday, will be in Houston.

O’Rourke will be leading the anti-NRA protest and rally on Discovery Green at noon local time, and will have plenty to say about the revived push for gun law reforms.

Charlie Scudder will be sending dispatches to the Guardian from the protest.

Meanwhile, here’s Charlie’s analysis of the power the NRA wields over lawmakers in Washington DC, and how the gun lobby has successfully stymied gun reform legislation for decades:

Investigators facing questions over changing Uvalde narrative

Officials in Texas are today facing growing outrage over the law enforcement response to Tuesday’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, in which an 18-year-old gunman claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers.

It has emerged that the shooter was locked in a classroom at Robb elementary for a full hour before a Swat team broke in and killed him, during which frantic parents outside the school pleaded with officers to move in and end the massacre.

At a press conference Thursday that quickly went off the rails, Victor Escalon, regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS), was unable to explain why officers waited to storm the classroom.

Victor Escalon of the Texas Department of Public Safety addresses reporters on Thursday.
Victor Escalon of the Texas Department of Public Safety addresses reporters on Thursday. Photograph: Dario Lopez-Mills/AP

Escalon also changed the official narrative of the shooting by admitting that there was not an armed officer at the school who confronted the gunman as he entered, and that the shooter was able to gain entry unchallenged, probably through an unlocked back door.

Earlier in the day, reporters were told that law enforcement engaged with killer Salvador Ramos as he went on to the campus with an AR-15 style assault weapon.

It was reported that one of the victims, a 10-year-old girl, was bleeding for an hour after being shot and died in hospital, although it is not known if an earlier intervention would have saved her life.

TDPS Lt Chris Olivarez was challenged about the delay on CNN last night, claiming that officers “could have been killed” had they rushed in:

The American people need to understand… officers are making entry into this building. They do not know where the gunman is. They are hearing gunshots. They are receiving gunshots.

At that point, if they proceeded any further not knowing where the suspect was at, they could’ve been shot, they could’ve been killed, and that gunman would have had an opportunity to kill other people inside that school.

The controversy has growing parallels with the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, where an on-site school resource officer, and other cops first on the scene, chose to wait outside instead of confronting the gunman. Several were later disciplined.

Joseph Giacalone, a law enforcement trainer and retired New York police department sergeant, said on CNN Friday morning that officers responding to an active shooter situation are obligated to move in at the first opportunity.

The idea is to neutralize them, at the very least draw attention away from the other potential victims towards the police.

You have to engage this guy immediately. And yes, you’re going to receive gunfire. That’s the idea behind it. It sounds crazy and it is, but unfortunately, that’s what has to be done.

Here’s my colleague Ed Pilkington’s story from last night on the police response to the Uvalde shooting:

Good morning and welcome to our live blog covering developments in Tuesday’s mass shooting at Robb elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers.

Outrage is mounting over the law enforcement response to the massacre, after it emerged the gunman was locked in a classroom for a full hour before a Swat team broke in and killed him.

Fury is also growing that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is pressing ahead with its annual conference, beginning Friday in Houston, less than 300 miles from the scene of the shooting. Donald Trump is among the speakers.

Meanwhile, families of those killed by the 18-year-gunman are preparing to hold the first funerals.

And Joe Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, will visit Uvalde on Sunday to grieve with the community and talk with civic leaders and first responders, the president’s second trip to the site of a mass shooting in two weeks following the killing of 10 Black people in a Buffalo, New York, supermarket earlier this month.

We’ll have all the developments through the day.

While we wait for the day to unfold, here’s the Guardian’s Dani Anguiano in Uvalde on the heavy cloud of grief hanging over the devastated community:




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