La Gaceta De Mexico - Texas massacre parents question 'late' police response

Texas massacre parents question 'late' police response
Texas massacre parents question 'late' police response / Photo: © AFP

Texas massacre parents question 'late' police response

Witnesses to the Texas school shooting rampage on Thursday questioned the early police response to the massacre, as bereaved parents said they pleaded for officers to storm the building and stop the bloodshed -- to no avail.

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As the town of Uvalde mourned 19 children and two teachers killed in America's latest mass shooting, Jacinto Cazares, whose daughter Jacklyn died in Tuesday's massacre, said he raced to Robb Elementary School in the small town of Uvalde when he heard about the shooting.

"There was at least 40 lawmen armed to the teeth but didn't do a darn thing (until) it was far too late," Cazares told ABC News Wednesday night, joining other grief-stricken parents quoted in US media as saying they urged police to act more forcefully, as America's worst school shooting in a decade unfolded.

"The situation could've been over quick if they had better tactical training, and we as a community witnessed it firsthand," said Cazares.

Daniel Myers and his wife Matilda -- both local pastors -- told AFP they were at the scene, and saw parents growing frantic as police appeared to wait on reinforcements before entering the school.

"Parents were desperate," said Daniel Myers, 72. "They were ready to go in. One family member, he says: 'I was in the military, just give me a gun, I'll go in. I'm not going to hesitate. I'll go in.'"

"So there was desperation there, there was time lapse," he told AFP at a makeshift memorial outside the school, where wooden crosses have been erected with victims' names.

The tight-knit Latino community was changed forever when an 18-year-old with a history of being bullied entered the school with an assault rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

Officials say the gunman, Salvador Ramos, wearing a military-style vest, was confronted by a school resource officer, but was able to enter through a back door. Ramos then made his way to two adjoining classrooms and started shooting.

Texas Department of Public Safety director Steven McCraw told CNN Ramos was inside for about 40 minutes before police managed to shoot and kill him.

US Border Patrol chief Raul Ortiz, meanwhile, said the force's agents "didn't hesitate."

"They came up with a plan. They entered that classroom and they took care of the situation as quickly as they possibly could," Ortiz told CNN.

- 'I have no words' -

Speaking out for the first time, Ramos's mother Adriana Reyes told ABC News her son could be aggressive when he got really angry but was "not a monster."

"I had an uneasy feeling sometimes, like 'what are you up to?,'" she told ABC Wednesday evening.

"We all have a rage, that some people have it more than others," Reyes said.

Reyes expressed sympathy for the slain children and their parents, saying she was not aware that her son had been buying weapons.

"Those kids... I have no words," Reyes said through tears. "I don't know what to say about those poor kids."

A teacher who was in the school building and spoke to NBC on condition she not be named said she had not been able to eat since the tragedy.

She said her students were watching a Disney movie to celebrate the imminent end of the school year, when she heard gunfire down the hall. She told the kids to get under their desks and rushed to lock the door.

"They knew this wasn't a drill," the teacher said, referring to the so-called active shooter exercises sadly common in US schools. "We knew we had to be quiet or else we were going to give ourselves away."

Eventually police broke her classroom windows from the outside and helped the kids to safety.

Authorities have said Ramos shot his 66-year-old grandmother in the face before heading to Robb Elementary School with an AR-15 rifle.

According to Uvalde's justice of the peace Eulalio Dia, anguished families waiting for news of their children had to provide DNA samples to help in the identification process.

"Some of the children were not in good shape," Diaz told the El Paso Times.

- 'Common sense' -

Pressed Wednesday on how the teen was able to obtain the murder weapon, Texas Governor Greg Abbott brushed aside suggestions tougher gun laws were needed in his state -- where attachment to the right to bear arms runs deep.

But in the shooting's wake President Joe Biden -- who will head to Uvalde in coming days -- has called on lawmakers to take on America's powerful gun lobby and enact "common sense gun reforms."

The Uvalde shooting was the deadliest since 20 elementary-age children and six staff were killed at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut in 2012.