Law enforcement offering conflicting accounts of the Uvalde school shooting timeline: report

Law enforcement offering conflicting accounts of the Uvalde school shooting timeline: report
Emergency response crews responding to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde Texas, Tuesday, May 24th, 2022 (screengrab/WFAA/YouTube).

Details are still being pieced together about what led to Tuesday's massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas as well as what transpired during the attack that killed 19 students and two teachers and injured 17 others.

According to law enforcement officials, the first 911 calls reporting that an armed man dressed in body armor had crashed his truck into a ditch and was headed toward the school occurred at around 11:20 a.m. At 11:23, the Uvalde Police Department posted on Facebook that police were present at Robb Elementary School and that a lockdown had been initiated. A local news agency made a concurrent announcement.

Thirty-four minutes later, at 12:17 p.m., the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District confirmed the presence of an active shooter at the school. At 1:06 p.m., UPD said that the suspect “was in police custody.”

On Wednesday,Vice News correspondent Tess Owen noticed that what transpired is "strangely opaque" during those 51 minutes.

"It isn’t necessarily unusual for timelines to shift in the immediate aftermath of a chaotic shooting like the one that happened in Uvalde," Owen said. "But the difference between some of the official accounts were striking."

Texas’ Director of Public Safety Steve McGraw's statement about how long it took emergency response teams to arrive and neutralize the 18-year-old gunman, for example, was indeed nebulous.

“Forty minutes, an hour. But I don’t want to give you a particular timeline," he explained to members of the press. “Bottom line, law enforcement was there, they did engage immediately, they did contain him in a classroom. They put a tactical stack together, in a very orderly way, and breached and assaulted the individual.”

Texas DPS Sergeant Erick Estrada, Owen wrote, offered a timeline of events "that was consistent with what McGraw said." Specifically, he recalled that the assailant had a confrontation with the cops and a resource officer before he entered the school.

“They weren’t able to stop him there so they did ask for assistance,” Estrada said in an interview with CNN. A tactical unit arrived “and eliminated the threat,” Estrada said. “Unfortunately before that happened, the shooter did manage to make entry into the school.”

DPS Lieutenant Chris Olivarez, meanwhile, stated that the shooter had already begun his assault by the time that tactical units arrived.

They heard “gunshots inside a classroom," and when they "tried to make entry into the building, they were met with gunfire by the suspect," Olivarez told Sky News.

Chris Olivarez of the Texas Department of Public Safety describe the shootout between officers and the gunman news.sky.com

“Some of those officers were shot, they began breaking windows around the school, trying to evacuate children, teachers, anyone they could, to get them out of that building,” Olivarez said. “We do know that the shooter was able to make entry into a classroom, barricaded himself into a classroom, and started shooting numerous children and teachers that were in that classroom having no regard for human life, just a complete evil person.”

The confusion further extended into how and when backup support was eventually summoned.

National Public Radio noted in its reporting that "a Border Patrol tactical unit responded to the scene, and one of its agents shot and killed the suspect, according to a source with the agency."

Based on Owen's review, that also somewhat clashes with McGraw's recollection.

McGraw said that the teams who initially responded "'were responsible' for containing the gunman in a classroom." Owen additionally pointed out that "spokespersons for the Texas Department of Public Safety had repeatedly told news outlets earlier that the suspect barricaded himself into the classroom and immediately started shooting."

Read Owen's analysis here.

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