The US Department of Justice has announced it will investigate police action during the Texas school shooting. Meanwhile, US President Biden traveled to Uvalde with his wife Jill and tried to offer comfort. But the anger grows.
The pressure on the police in Uvalde, Texas is increasing. Apparently there were dramatic omissions during the operation in the massacre at an elementary school, in which an assassin killed 21 people. According to official information, 19 police officers were already in the hallway in front of the classroom where the gunman was holed up with teachers and students at an early stage. However, the officers made no attempts to enter the room for a long time. Now the US Department of Justice wants to examine the use of that day more closely. US President Joe Biden visited the community of Uvalde on Sunday, where grief is increasingly turning to anger.
An 18-year-old gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at the elementary school in the small Texas town on Tuesday. The attacker locked himself in with students and teachers in two connected classrooms and shot around there.
What was reconstructed about the course of the crime is shocking
Biden traveled to Uvalde with his wife Jill on Sunday. In front of the elementary school, the President and First Lady laid a bouquet of flowers at an impromptu memorial with flowers, toys and photos of those killed. The Bidens walked individually from picture to picture, touching the photos of the victims. They then attended a church service in the church. Later they wanted to meet relatives of the victims and survivors.
What investigators have so far reconstructed on the basis of video recordings, witness statements, police communication and emergency calls is shocking. The shooter entered the elementary school and classroom shortly after 11:30 a.m. local time and began shooting. A few minutes later the first police officers were in front of the classroom. Other officials followed. Just after 12:00 p.m. local time, 19 police officers were stationed in the hallway outside the classroom.
Around the same time, students from inside the room began dialing 911 police in desperation, officials said. Among them was a student who called several times in a row. In a whisper, she first reported several deaths. In another call, she said a little later that eight to nine students were still alive. Still no help came. 40 minutes after the first call, the girl begged for the police to be called immediately.
Dismay among the parents of the victims
Meanwhile, the police outside the door were waiting for reinforcements, as the Texas Public Safety Authority revealed on Friday. The officer responsible was of the opinion that after the first shots were fired, no more children were in danger. Now that’s causing bewilderment. It was not until 12:50 p.m. that emergency services entered the room – with a key that they had obtained from the caretaker – and killed the gunman. More than 75 minutes after he opened fire inside. Meanwhile, the attacker wiped out 21 lives. 17 other people were injured.
According to their own statements, one of the children who called the emergency number is eleven-year-old Miah. She described the terrible scenes that took place in her class to CNN. The shooter came into the room and said “good night” to a teacher and shot the woman. He then shot the other teacher and the children. When the attacker went into the next room, she and a friend were able to get the dead teacher’s phone and called the emergency number. The girl ended up smearing herself with the blood of a dead classmate to pretend dead, CNN reported. She was not aware that the police were already in the hallway.
In view of the new findings, relatives raised serious allegations against the police. “They could have saved some lives,” the Washington Post quoted the grandfather of a student who was killed as saying. “You could have saved her,” he said, looking at his granddaughter. The father of a child who was killed also told CNN that his daughter might still be alive if the police had acted differently. Another student’s mother lamented, “You’ve waited too long.”
Department of Justice announces investigation
The Justice Department in Washington announced on Sunday an investigation into police actions. Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin asked for it. The aim is to create an independent report on the actions of the law enforcement authorities on that day and to draw lessons for other attacks. The report should also be published at the end.
Democrat Roland Gutierrez of the Texas Senate also complained that mistakes in the operation could have cost lives. “In the end, everyone here failed,” the Democrat told CNN on Sunday. That also applies to the Texas parliament, which has not enforced stricter gun laws.
The Uvalde killing spree has fueled the debate about tightening gun laws in the United States. Many Republicans have been opposed to stricter regulations for years. Republican ex-president Donald Trump also defended the lax gun laws in many places in the USA in an appearance before the powerful gun lobby NRA (National Rifle Association) on Friday and instead called for more armed security forces to be posted in schools and teachers to be armed. The NRA meeting in Houston, Texas was accompanied by protests against gun violence and the gun lobby. The United States has long struggled with gun violence on a massive scale.