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New videos emerge of Texas shooting showing parents desperate to reach kids

  • >> Reuters
    Published: 2022-05-26 23:54:11 BdST

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Texas Department of Public Safety officers walk besides a man and a woman in a wheelchair, in front of crosses with the names of victims of a school shooting, at a memorial outside Robb Elementary school, two days after a gunman killed nineteen children and two adults, in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. May 26, 2022. REUTERS/Marco Bello

Desperate parents shouted at police to enter the South Texas elementary school where a massacre was unfolding, with some trying to approach the building themselves before being restrained by officers, according to videos recorded during Tuesday's attack.

The videos emerging on Thursday, along with preliminary accounts of the shooting timeline from authorities, suggest up to an hour passed between the time the attack began and the moment specially trained officers breached the fourth-grade classroom where 18-year-old Salvador Ramos had killed 19 children and two teachers - and shot him dead.

In one video posted on Facebook by a man named Angel Ledezma, parents can be seen breaking through yellow police tape and yelling at officers to go into the building.

"It's already been an hour, and they still can't get all the kids out," Ledezma said during the video.

Ledezma did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Another video posted on YouTube showed officers restraining at least one adult. One woman can be heard saying, "Why let the children die? There's shooting in there."

"We got guys going in to get kids," one officer is heard telling the crowd. "They're working."

A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety, Chris Olivarez, said that investigators were still trying to confirm a precise timeline, including how long Ramos remained barricaded inside the classroom.

The shooting has reignited a national debate over the country's gun laws. President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats have vowed to push for new restrictions, despite resistance from Republicans.

There were few warning signs: Ramos, a high school dropout, had no criminal record or history of mental illness. Governor Greg Abbott said on Wednesday that Ramos had written an online message to someone minutes before the attack saying he was about to "shoot up an elementary school."

Authorities said Ramos shot his grandmother in the face at the home they shared before fleeing and crashing his car outside Robb Elementary School sometime around 11:30 a.m. (1630 GMT). His grandmother, who is hospitalized in critical condition, managed to call police.

Outside the school, Ramos, armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, evaded a school police officer, dropping a bag full of ammunition as he did so. Officials have offered conflicting accounts as to whether Ramos and the officer exchanged gunfire before Ramos was able to enter the school.

"We're trying to establish exactly what was his role and how he encountered the shooter," Olivarez told CNN.

Ramos wounded two responding officers inside a hallway before barricading himself inside a fourth-grade classroom, Olivarez said. The attack drew a massive law enforcement response, including hundreds of officers, who encircled the building and broke windows in an effort to evacuate children and staff.

Eventually, members of a US Border Patrol tactical unit breached the classroom and apparently killed Ramos, with one agent wounded in the crossfire, officials said.

The Uvalde Police Department announced the incident was over shortly after 1 p.m. (1800 GMT).

Olivarez said the attack lasted between 40 and 60 minutes, though he could not say whether that time frame began when Ramos shot his grandmother or when the teenager arrived at the school. The FBI is working on obtaining surveillance video from the school's cameras.

At least 17 people were also injured, including multiple children.

Victims' loved ones took to social media to express anguish over the loss of children who never came home from school.

"We told her we loved her and would pick her up after school," Kimberly Mata-Rubio posted on Facebook in a remembrance of her daughter, Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, a fourth-grade honor student. "We had no idea this was goodbye."

GUN CONTROL DEBATE

The shooting came 10 days after an avowed white supremacist shot 13 people at a supermarket in a mostly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York.

In Washington, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate appeared far from any compromise on new gun restrictions.

Biden, who has urged Congress to act, will visit Uvalde in the coming days.

The National Rifle Association's annual meeting starts on Friday in Houston, where Republicans including Abbott, US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and former President Donald Trump were scheduled to address the gun rights group.

The NRA expressed sympathy for the victims but said the event would go on as planned.

Shootings have become so commonplace in American schools that data shows a gun being fired almost every day this year on school property.

The Texas rampage is the deadliest US school shooting since a gunman killed 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December 2012. Like that one, the Texas attack left parents across the country fearful and grieving.

Uvalde is a close-knit community of about 16,000 residents, nearly 80% of them Hispanic or Latino, according to US Census data. The town's small size ensured that many residents personally knew some victims, or their families, including the town official faced with the grim task of identifying the bodies.