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UVALDE: The exact sequence of the Uvalde massacre in Texas, and the role of law enforcement in the tragedy, were at the center of questions Thursday, with testimonies from parents harshly charging the police, accusing them of having showed passivity on Tuesday.
“There were at least 40 officers armed to the teeth but they did nothing until it was too late,” Jacinto Cazares, father of 10-year-old Jacklyn Cazares, who died in the incident, told ABC. Robb Elementary School in Texas City.
In a video uploaded to social media and obtained by Storyful, we can see the frustrated parents, urging the police to enter the establishment at the time of the tragedy. The footage also shows a police officer roughly pushing one of the people out of the establishment.
Then one of the parents exclaims: “You know they’re just kids, huh? (…) 6-year-olds, they don’t know how to defend themselves from a shooter.”
Daniel Myers, a 72-year-old pastor, had arrived with his wife Matilda outside the school about 30 minutes after the shooter entered the school.
He described to AFP how the police waited in the absence of a specialized unit to attack, and how the parents who came to the scene were “desperate”.
“They were ready to return (to the establishment). One of the relatives said: + I was a military man, just give me a weapon, I’m leaving. I’m not going to hesitate. I’m leaving +”.
Law enforcement said Wednesday that they had tried to prevent Salvador Ramos, the 18-year-old shooter, from entering the school.
But, after an exchange of fire, he managed to barricade himself in a classroom. This is where he killed 19 children, but also two teachers.
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw told CNN that Salvador Ramos remained inside the school for about 40 minutes before police managed to shoot him.
The head of the border police, Raúl Ortiz, whose agents were at the scene, assured that the latter “did not hesitate.”
“They came up with a plan. They went into the classroom and figured it out as fast as they could,” he also told CNN.
In addition to the 21 dead, 17 people were injured, including three policemen.
In the absence of a medical examiner, Eulalio Díaz, a local official, was in charge of identifying the bodies until late at night, he told the El Paso Times.
“Some of the children were in bad shape,” said the chosen one.
Parents waiting to hear from their children provided DNA samples to speed up the identification process.
Eulalio Díaz hopes that the bodies can be buried in the next 48 hours, time to perform autopsies.
“It’s going to be difficult when you have to write 21 death certificates,” he said.
The tragedy stunned Uvalde, a predominantly Hispanic town of 16,000 halfway between San Antonio and the Mexican border.
At a news conference Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott revealed that the killer shot his 66-year-old grandmother in the face before driving to Robb Elementary School, armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic pistol, a weapon fatally known for have been used in other massacres in the United States such as that of a high school in Parkland, Florida that left 18 dead.
Along the way, Salvador Ramos got into a car accident, and it was there that the police tried to stop him, to no avail.
One of the school teachers, present in the establishment at the time of the tragedy, told ABC that her students were watching a Disney movie to celebrate the upcoming end of the school year, when shots rang out.
His students then practiced their years of training for such a situation, quietly gathering under his table. These trainings have become the norm in schools across the United States, where deadly shootings are relentlessly repeated year after year.
“They knew it was not a drill. We had to be quiet or we were going to alert him to our presence, ”said the teacher, who preferred to remain anonymous.
The shooter’s mother, Adriana Reyes, told the same channel that her son was not “a monster” but that he could “be aggressive” at times.
“I had an uncomfortable feeling sometimes,” he said, wondering what was on his mind.
Hundreds of people gathered Wednesday night in the stands of a theater to mourn the victims of the massacre.
“I am heartbroken,” sobbed Ryan Ramirez, who lost his 10-year-old daughter Alithia in the shooting. Beside him, his wife Jessica was crying softly, her other daughter in her arms.
In the United States, school shootings are a recurring scourge that successive governments have so far been unable to stop.
The debate on the regulation of weapons in the country is almost on hold, given the lack of hope that Congress will approve an ambitious national law on the subject.
The “March for Our Lives” movement, created after the Parkland shootings, called for a large rally on June 11 in Washington to call for tougher gun regulations.