Texas police admit ruling gunman inactive was ‘the wrong decision’
Officials have admitted to critical delays in the law enforcement response to the massacre of 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Texas.
Police are facing growing criticism for their handling of the tragedy at Robb Elementary School on Tuesday, including accusations they did not move in fast enough to tackle lone gunman Salvador Ramos.
Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said officers did not breach a classroom door for more than an hour after arriving on Tuesday.
Authorities falsely believed the gunman was “barricaded” and no longer an active shooter threat, despite pleas and phone calls from terrified children inside their classrooms.
It comes as President Joe Biden visits Uvalde on Sunday to meet with the families of the victims.
“Those parents are literally preparing to bury their children — in the United States of America. There is too much violence, too much fear, too much grief,” he said on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the killer’s mother has begged the victims of her son’s killings for forgiveness but said Ramos “had his reasons” for doing what he did.
Everything but gun control that conservatives have floated in response to school shootings
As parents, community members and school staff grieve in the wake of yet another school shooting in America, those not immediately involved in the tragedy that left 19 children and two teachers dead at an elementary school in Uvalde found themselves turning to their elected officials and rallying around the seemingly simple request: do something.
US President Joe Biden, who only a week before the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School travelled to Buffalo, the site of another deadly mass shooting, to offer a sharp rebuke of his country’s gun control policies. Delivering a damning speech, the president called on Congress to address the easy availability of military-style rifles, such as the ones used by both gunmen in the shootings in Texas and New York.
Democratic lawmakers similarly made stirring pleas on the Senate floor, pleading for action on gun control. “What are we doing?” begged Senator Chris Murphy, whose home state, Connecticut, was the site of the Sandy Hook massacre, one of the deadliest school shootings in history. “Why are you here if not to solve a problem as existential as this?”
From airport security checks to a volunteer militia of armed parents and guardians, here’s what Republicans offered up this week in response to protecting schoolchildren from having to bear witness to another brutal school shooting – of which there have been 27 this year so far – from happening again.
California Republican and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy took up the issue of public schools’ architectural failings, namely, the number of doors and how that should instead be reduced to a singular rather than a plural.
“There are billions of dollars sitting out there after Covid, for schools. We should redirect that money to allow the schools to use that to have one central point of entrance to protect these kids from a lot of different items,” the Republican lawmaker said during an interview with Fox Business Tonight.
Johanna Chisholm29 May 2022 16:45
Biden called again to mourn with a city stricken by grief
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden are hoping to console a city stricken by grief and anger when they meet with families affected by the mass shooting at a Texas elementary school that killed 19 students and two teachers.
The visit to Uvalde on Sunday is Biden’s second trip in as many weeks to comfort a community in mourning after staggering loss. On May 17, he was in Buffalo, New York, to meet with victims’ families and condemn white supremacy after a shooter espousing the racist “replacement theory” killed 10 Black people at a supermarket.
The shootings in Texas and New York and their aftermath have put a spotlight on the nation’s entrenched divisions and its inability to forge consensus on actions to reduce gun violence.
“Evil came to that elementary school classroom in Texas, to that grocery store in New York, to far too many places where innocents have died,” Biden said Saturday in a commencement address at the University of Delaware. “We have to stand stronger. We must stand stronger. We cannot outlaw tragedy, I know, but we can make America safer.”
Biden was to visit the makeshift memorial outside Robb Elementary School before attending Mass at a local Catholic church. He was also scheduled to meet with family members at a community center and then with first responders at the local airport before returning to Washington, the White House said. He was not expected to deliver formal remarks.
The Associated Press29 May 2022 16:31
Texas congressman pressed on gun rights following Uvalde shooting
Gustaf Kilander29 May 2022 16:15
NRA leader Wayne LaPierre survives confidence vote as group’s board considers his future
Wayne LaPierre, the leader of the National Rifle Association (NRA), has survived a confidence vote by his organisation’s members ahead of a crucial decision about his future on Monday.
The vote came as the group convened in Houston for its annual meeting just days after an 18-year-old gunman shot dead 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in the south Texas city of Uvalde.
Mr LaPierre, who along with three other top NRA figures has been accused of abusing millions of dollars in funds for personal purposes, is currently the group’s executive vice president as well as its CEO. On Monday he will face his organisation’s board, which is set to decide whether or not to renew him in his vice presidential position.
His long tenure at the organisation’s helm has seen Mr LaPierre become one of the most controversial unelected figures in national US politics. With his determined opposition to any meaningful gun safety legislation – a stance he reiterated after the Uvalde massacre – he has cemented his position at the helm of the gun lobby, this despite a decade-long run of mass shootings, including in schools, that have put more and more pressure on the US’ elected leaders to stem the flow of weapons such as assault-style rifles.
But it was the furore over the NRA’s finances, not a change in public opinion about guns, that put Mr LaPierre’s job security in doubt.
Andrew Naughtie29 May 2022 15:45
‘It is possible she could have been saved’: State senator blasts police response
Democratic Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez represents an area that includes Uvalde, the site of Tuesday’s mass shooting.
He told The New York Times that the family of one of the children who was killed said that she was hit by a bullet to the back and had then bled to death.
“It is possible she could have been saved if they had done their jobs,” Mr Gutierrez told the paper, criticizing the law enforcement response.
He added that the failures probably went beyond the small police department in charge of the response on the scene.
“How can you blame it all on a chief of police of a school district with six cops?” Mr Gutierrez said. “Everybody failed here.”
Gustaf Kilander29 May 2022 15:15
‘What is your problem?’: Officers questioned police chief’s decision to wait to confront shooter
Officers from various agencies who descended on Robb Elementary School on Tuesday questioned the decision by the chief of the school district’s police department, a law enforcement unit created only four years ago.
“What is your problem?” specially trained Border Patrol agents asked after arriving 40 minutes after the beginning of the shooting when they weren’t given permission to enter the building, The New York Times reported.
Gunman Salvador Ramos was killed after officers were finally cleared to enter the school.
The choice to hold off on storming the building appeared to both officers on the scene and policing experts around the country to not be in line with practices instituted following the 1999 Columbine High School shooting.
Chuck Wexler, the head of the Police Executive Research Forum, a think tank in Washington, DC, told The Times that “the change from Columbine has not necessarily been accepted by agencies across the country, and that’s what you saw in this situation”.
“There are still departments in this country where there is ambiguity about this policy,” he added.
Gustaf Kilander29 May 2022 14:45
Uvalde a mix of pride and anger as it grieves school attack
Days after a local man burst into an elementary school and killed 19 children and two teachers before officers managed to kill him, the signs of grief, solidarity and local pride are everywhere in Uvalde.
Many are wearing maroon, the color for Uvalde’s school district. And light blue ribbons adorn the giant oaks that shade the city’s central square, where mourners come to lay flowers around a fountain and write messages on wooden crosses that bear the victims’ names. In front of a day care center on one of the city’s main streets, 21 wooden chairs sit empty.
Everyone in the predominantly Latino city of roughly 16,000 people seems to know someone whose life has been turned upside down by losing a family member or close friend in the attack at Robb Elementary School, which was one of the deadliest of its kind.
Joe Ruiz, pastor of Templo Cristiano, said a teacher who is friends with his wife — herself a former Uvalde teacher — summed up the community’s mood best by saying people have “cried out everything” they could and are now just tired and needing rest.
AP news wire29 May 2022 14:15
Critical mistakes made by police at heart of Texas school shooting investigation
Critical mistakes made by police during the deadly Texas school shooting are now being investigated by the state.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, it has emerged that nearly 20 officers remained outside a classroom at Robb Elementary School despite dozens of 911 calls pleading for help.
The Texas Department of Public Safety is also seeking to determine the motive behind the gunman’s attack and why he was not intercepted sooner after it emerged a school officer responding to calls of an armed man drove past him.
At least eight phone calls to emergency services were placed from inside the classroom which the gunman entered yet officers remained in the hallway, officials said.
Zaina Alibhai29 May 2022 13:45
After Texas shooting, schools around US boost security
In the aftermath of the elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, schools around the US have brought in additional security staff and restricted visitors as they deal with a new rash of copycat threats.
For some families and educators, it all has added to uneasiness in the wake of the deadliest school shooting since the 2012 attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Jake Green, 34, of Los Alamos, New Mexico, was jolted when he saw a plainclothes police officer for the first time while walking his 7-year-old daughter into school Friday morning. He grew up in Colorado, not far from where two Columbine High School students shot and killed 12 classmates and a teacher in 1999. Green remembers attending memorials and candlelight vigils as a fifth-grader, but he’s torn about whether having police at his daughter’s school is best.
“In a way, I don’t really feel any safer with police around,” Green said. “Seeing the police there, it really made it seem like the worst possibility was even more possible today.”
In El Paso, Texas, where a gunman killed 23 people in a racist 2019 attack that targeted Hispanics at a Walmart, schools are on edge. The El Paso Independent School District has already encountered some reported threats that turned out to be false. They were either “students joking or overly-sensitive parents,” said Gustavo Reveles Acosta, a district spokesperson.
AP news wire29 May 2022 13:14
Trump says Texas school shooter will be ‘eternally damned to burn in fires of hell’
Donald Trump has said the Texas school shooter will be “eternally damned to burn in the fires of hell”.
The former US president made his comments as he addressed the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Houston, Texas, less than 300 miles away from the school where Salvador Ramos killed 21 people in Uvalde.
“The monster who committed this crime is pure evil, pure cruelty, pure hatred,” Trump said.
“While those he slaughtered are now in heaven, he will be eternally damned to burn in the fires of hell.”
Sam Rkaina29 May 2022 11:40