Law enforcement authorities faced mounting questions and criticism Thursday over how much time elapsed before they stormed the Robb Elementary School classroom and put a stop to the rampage by a gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers.
Authorities have praised law enforcement for containing the Uvalde, Texas, shooter after he entered the school, even though he was cornered in a classroom full of children where the massacre eventually occurred.
Various reports place Salvador Ramos, the 18-year-old gunman, in the classroom where most of the killings occurred for between 30 and 60 minutes after law enforcement engaged him but failed to keep him out of the school.
Several local authorities said law enforcement had “pinned” or “contained” him during this time, protecting the rest of the school, despite the fact that he was actively shooting children at that time.
One witness told the Associated Press that onlookers had urged police officers to charge the school during the shooting, but to no avail.
“The bottom line is that law enforcement was there … They did engage immediately. They did contain him in the classroom. They put a tactical stack together in a very orderly way and of course breached and assaulted the individual,” Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said at a briefing Wednesday, according to NBC News.
Texas law enforcement officials said at a Wednesday new conference that, while there was a failure to prevent the shooting, their quick response probably saved lives, according to The Washington Post.
Republican Texas Rep. Tony Gonzalez praised the law enforcement officers who were on site during the shooting — including border patrol, police and sheriffs — for containing the gunman in the classroom where the murders occurred on “The Lead” with Jake Tapper Wednesday.
“They basically cornered him into one room. There are hundreds of children in that school … a lieutenant named Javier Martinez engages this assailant, he takes fire, he actually was wounded. You know, its tragic to see so many children be murdered, but this could’ve been a whole lot worse. People like Javier Martinez and Chief Arredondo, they saved hundreds of lives. So that’s where you see him get pinned in,” Gonzalez said.
“Just to be clear, he’s pinned down — or pinned in — in a classroom where he was slaughtering kids, right? I mean, is that what you mean by ‘pinned down?’” Tapper asked.
“I understand that he went into that classroom and he begins to fire,” Gonzalez responded.
The Uvalde Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety office did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s requests for comment.
The local U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) office directed TheDCNF to its public affairs office, which declined to comment but directed the DCNF to statements from CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus and the Department of Homeland Security.