Terrified kids called 911 while they were locked inside with the Uvalde, Texas school shooter – with one child pleading “please send the police now” as officers waited more than a half hour to take the gunman down.
Law enforcement officials admitted Friday that officers bungled the response to the Robb Elementary School shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers.
Two students who were locked in two interconnected classrooms with the killer made multiple 911 calls, but the on-scene commanding officer decided the situation had evolved from an active shooter to a barricaded suspect and didn’t act.
“So, the belief is that there may not be anyone living anymore and that the subject is now trying to keep law enforcement at bay or entice them to come in, and suicide by contact,” said Col. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Gunman Salvador Ramos, 18, arrived at the school at just before 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, marched in through an open door and locked himself into rooms 111 and 112, firing off at least 100 rounds in the massacre. By 12:15 p.m., Ramos was in the classroom with at least 19 officers in the building – but a US Customs and Border Protection tactical unit didn’t open the door using a janitor’s key and fatally shoot Ramos until 12:50 p.m., McCraw said.
The first child called 911 whispering from room 112 at 12:03 p.m. in a call that lasted 1 minute and 23 seconds, McCraw said. She called back at 12:10 to say “multiple” people were dead. She called three minutes later and again at 12:16 where she told a dispatcher there were eight to nine students alive, according to McCraw.
At 12:19 p.m., another person in room 111 called.
“She hung up when another student told her to hang up,” McCraw said. At 12:21 p.m. on the 911 call, shots could be heard fired in the background.
At 12:36 p.m., the initial child called back in a brief call where the dispatcher told her to “stay on the line and be very quiet,” he said. The child said Ramos had shot the door.
At 12:46 p.m., she said she could hear the police next door. At 12:47 p.m. she asked “please send the police now.”
At 12:50 p.m., shots were fired that could be heard on the 911 call. That was the time when the tactical unit, armed with ballistic shields, entered Room 111 and finally killed Ramos. The sound of officers moving children out of the room could be heard a minute later on the 911 call.
It wasn’t clear if the incident commander was receiving the information coming in from 911 – and if he wasn’t why not.
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“That question will be answered,” McCraw said.