Texas school shooting timeline: More than 1 hour of police inaction as children, parents pleaded
Police in Texas admitted mistakes in the handling of a gunman who killed 21 people in a classroom Tuesday.
Authorities waited more than an hour before entering the classroom, according to a new narrative they provided Friday. The timeline heightens questions about police tactics and whether some of the victims — including 19 children — could have been saved if rescuers had gotten there sooner.
Parents have criticized police, saying they begged officers to try to rescue the children.
But law enforcement officials on Friday said they “believed they needed more equipment and more officers to do a tactical breach,” and they thought they had more time because they believed — wrongly — that the scene had transitioned from an “active shooter situation to a barricaded subject.”
“Of course, it wasn’t the right decision,” Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said at a news conference. “It was the wrong decision. Period.”
Here is the latest on what we know about that crucial period of indecision:
11 a.m. In a series of private Facebook messages, the shooter — identified as Salvador Ramos, 18 — announces his deadly intentions, officials said.
In the first post, “he said, ‘I’m going to shoot my grandmother,’ ” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said at a briefing Wednesday. “The second post was, ‘I shot my grandmother,’ ” Abbott said. Authorities with the Texas Department of Public Safety say Ramos shot his grandmother, 66-year-old Celia M. Gonzales, in the face at the Diaz Street home where he lived with her before fleeing.
11:15 a.m. He sends another message on Facebook declaring, “I’m going to shoot an elementary school.”
11:27 a.m. McCraw said video evidence showed an exterior door at the school had been propped open by a teacher.
11:28 a.m. Ramos crashes his vehicle into a ditch. Two men from a nearby funeral home hear the crash and go toward the scene. As they arrive, they see a man with a gun exit the vehicle with a backpack, and they begin running. The gunman begins firing at them but does not strike them, McCraw said, and both men return to the funeral home.
At the same time, a teacher moves from Room 132 to retrieve a phone, and that same teacher walks back to the exit door and the door remains propped open.
Investigators are interviewing witnesses and analyzing video to explain the delayed police response to the massacre that killed 21 at a Texas school.
“That back door was propped open. It wasn’t supposed to be propped open,” McCraw said. “It was supposed to be locked. And certainly the teacher that went back for her cellphone propped it open again. So that was an access point that the subject used.”
11:30 a.m. Operators receive a 911 call about a vehicle crash and a man with a gun.
11:31 a.m. The gunman reaches the last row of vehicles in the school’s parking lot and fires shots at the school while patrol vehicles go to the funeral home, McCraw said.
Contrary to earlier reports, there was no officer from the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District who confronted the subject at this time, McCraw said. However, an officer heard the 911 call and drove immediately to the area.
“In doing so, he drove right by the suspect, who was hunkered down behind a vehicle where he began shooting at the school,” McCraw said.
Uvalde survivors’ stories: One fourth-grader said the shooter came into his classroom and said, ‘It’s time to die.’
11:32 a.m. The shooter fires “multiple shots” outside the school, then leaves the surveillance camera’s view.
11:33 a.m. The gunman enters the school and begins shooting into Room 111 or Room 112, McCraw said, noting that it was not possible to determine which room from the angle of the video. The two rooms were adjoined.
“He shot more than 100 rounds based on audio evidence at that time,” McCraw said.
11:35 a.m. Three Uvalde Police Department officers enter the school through the same door used by Ramos. They are soon followed by three more Uvalde police officers and one county deputy sheriff, “so a total of seven officers were on the scene,” McCraw said.
“The three initial police officers that arrived went directly to the door, and two received grazing wounds at that time from the suspect while the door was closed.”
11:37-11:44 a.m. Sixteen more rounds are fired, although McCraw did not specify by whom.
11:43 a.m. Robb Elementary School announces a lockdown. The Uvalde Police Department shares information on Facebook.
11:51 a.m. Additional officers and law enforcement agents begin to arrive.
The names and stories of those killed in the Texas school shooting are emerging as the stunned community of Uvalde tries to cope with Tuesday’s attack.
12:03 p.m. Officers continue to amass in the school hallway, and there were as many as 19 at that time there, McCraw said.
At the same time, a person calls 911 and whispers that she is in Room 112. McCraw did not provide her name. The call lasts about 1 minute and 23 seconds.
12:10 p.m. The person again calls 911 and “advised there were multiple dead.”
12:13 p.m. The same person calls 911 a third time.
12:15 p.m. Some border patrol tactical unit members arrive at the scene.
12:16 p.m. The person calls 911 again and says there are “eight to nine students alive.”
The pull of family is strong in the close-knit community of Uvalde, Texas.
12:17 p.m. The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District announces the shooting on social media: “There is an active shooter at Robb Elementary. Law enforcement is on site. Your cooperation is needed at this time by not visiting the campus. As soon as more information is gathered it will be shared. The rest of the district is under a Secure Status.”
By the time the warning went out, parents were gathering at the school, demanding action. Derek Sotelo, 26, whose family owns a tire shop nearby, said that after hearing shots, he was outside the school with a friend whose son is a student and who was frantically trying to get police to go in — or go in himself.
“He was right in the officer’s face, like, ‘Man, give me your vest. You’re not doing nothing with it! Give me that vest, and I’ll go in and kill that guy.’
Many parents were angry about the officers not rushing inside, he said. “Everyone was like, ‘What’s going on? What the heck’s going on? Why aren’t they going in? What are they waiting for?’ ”
Videos posted on social media, apparently filmed outside the school during the attack, show law enforcement officials drew weapons on parents and pinned one parent to the ground to prevent them from entering the building.
12:19 p.m. Another person dials 911 from Room 111. McCraw did not provide her name. “She hung up when another student told her to hang up,” he said.
12:21 p.m. The shooter fires again and was believed to be at the door, McCraw said, although he did not specify which door.
At the same time, “you can hear on the 911 call that three shots were fired,” he said.
12:21 p.m. Law enforcement moves down the hallway.
Parents are demanding answers on safety after Texas school shooting. Here’s what California is doing.
12:23 p.m. Parents are told to pick up children at Uvalde’s Sgt. Willie de Leon Civic Center.
12:36: Operators receive a 911 call that lasts about 21 seconds.
“The initial caller called back — a student child called back — and was told to stay on the line and be very quiet,” McCraw said. “She told 911 that ‘he shot the door.’ ”
12:43-12:47 p.m. The caller asks 911 to “please send the police now.”
12:46 p.m. The 911 caller says “she could hear the police next door.”
12:50 p.m. Shots could be heard on the 911 call, McCraw said.
At the same time, officers “breached the door” using keys they were able to get from the janitor because both doors were locked.
“Both of the classrooms that he shot into were locked when officers arrived,” McCraw said. “They killed the suspect at that time.”
12:51 p.m. According to the 911 call, “It was very loud, and it sounds like the officers were moving children out of the room,” McCraw said.
1:06 p.m. The Uvalde Police Department reports the suspect is “in police custody.”
California’s governor calls inaction on gun violence a “choice” after a Texas school shooting.
- According to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Ramos legally purchased two AR-platform rifles on two separate dates this month: May 17 and May 20.
- One of the rifles was left in the crashed truck. The other — a Daniel Defense brand — was found inside the school with the body of the gunman.
- On May 18, Ramos purchased 375 rounds of 5.56-millimeter ammunition, authorities said. In total, he had 1,657 rounds of ammunition, McCraw said Friday.
- It appears Ramos dropped a backpack with several magazines full of ammunition near the entrance of the school. McCraw said Friday he had a total of 60 magazines, including 58 at the school and two at his residence.
Start your day right
Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.