A gunman killed 21 people in a school classroom. Now it turns out that it took an hour for the police to intervene. Could action have been taken more quickly?

Police are under pressure for their actions during the massacre following the bloodbath at a Texas elementary school. Parents accuse the emergency services of having been idle for too long and not intervening in time.

Authorities confirmed Thursday that the gunman spent around an hour in the classroom shooting at the schoolchildren and teachers. Only then did the police enter the room and shoot the 18-year-old.

More details about the course of action

At a press conference in the community of Uvalde, Victor Escalon from the Texas Department of Public Safety announced further details about the course of the crime and spoke of a “complex situation”. The attacker Salvador Ramos entered the elementary school and eventually a classroom near an entrance around 11:40 a.m. (local time) Tuesday, he said. Police were on site within minutes because witnesses saw the armed shooter in front of the school.

When asked why the police didn’t try to enter the classroom directly, Escalon said the officers lacked special equipment. The door was “barricaded”. The police then called for reinforcements and brought school children and teachers to safety. Besides, she would have tried to negotiate with the shooter. He fired most of the shots at the very beginning. “There wasn’t much shooting during the negotiations, other than trying to keep the cops at bay,” Escalon said. After about an hour, special forces arrived and shot the 18-year-old.

Conflicting information from the police

There had been conflicting information from the police in the past few days about exactly how the crime took place. Initially, it was said that the shooter had already been confronted by a security guard in front of the school. Escalon did not confirm that. Instead, the 18-year-old was able to walk into the school unhindered through an unlocked door. At the press conference on Thursday, the authorities came under pressure to justify themselves. “Why don’t you clarify that and explain to us how it is possible that your officers were in there for an hour (…) but no one was able to get into this room?” asked a journalist.

Recently, more and more critical voices from parents in Uvalde have been raised. They accuse the police of acting too hesitantly. “I told one of the officers myself that if they don’t want to go in, lend me his gun and a vest and I’ll go in and sort it out myself,” Victor Luna told CNN. His son Jayden survived the massacre. The police did their job, Luna said. But she could have done it faster. Other parents made similar comments in US media.

Renewed debate about stricter gun laws in the USA

The school massacre reignited the debate about tougher gun laws in the United States. This Friday, former US President Donald Trump will appear in Houston (Texas) at the annual meeting of the powerful NRA gun lobby. Republicans are vehemently opposed to tightening gun laws. Trump’s participation in the event has been certain for some time. He confirmed his coming again. “America right now needs real solutions and real leadership, not politicians and partisanship,” he wrote on social media platform Truth Social, which he co-founded.

US President Joe Biden had called for stricter gun laws after the bloodbath. Corresponding initiatives by his Democrats, however, regularly fail due to opposition from Republicans and the powerful gun lobby. “These were elementary school children, they should lose their first teeth, not their lives,” said Biden’s spokeswoman Karine-Jean Pierre. She announced that the US President would travel to Uvalde on Sunday, accompanied by his wife Jill.

Another prominent guest commemorated the victims there on Thursday. Duchess Meghan visited the small community and laid flowers. The 40-year-old traveled to Uvalde in her personal role as a mother, a spokeswoman said. Prince Harry’s wife has two young children – Archie and Lilibet – with the Queen’s grandson.