TIMELINE: Texas elementary school shooting, minute by minute
Jul 13, 2022, 3:31 AM | Updated: Jul 19, 2022, 2:51 pm
(Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File)
On May 24, a gunman fatally shot 19 children and two teachers in two adjoining classrooms at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Over an hour passed from the time officers followed the 18-year-old gunman into the school and when they finally entered the fourth-grade classroom where he was holed up and killed him.
Meanwhile, students trapped inside repeatedly called 911 and parents outside the school begged officers to go in.
Questions continue to swirl about why police armed with rifles and bulletproof shields waited so long. Authorities have given shifting and sometimes contradictory information about what happened and how they responded. The fallout has driven recriminations and rifts between local and state authorities, and angered many who live in the small South Texas city.
On July 17, a damning report was released by an investigative committee from the Texas House of Representatives and the city released hours of officers’ body camera footage, further laying bare the chaotic response, which included 376 officers. The findings were the first to criticize both state and federal law enforcement, and not just local authorities, for the bewildering inaction by the heavily armed officers.
During a May 27 news conference, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Col. Steve McCraw put the blame on the commander at the scene — school district police Chief Pete Arredondo — saying he made the “wrong decision” not to send officers in sooner.
McCraw also gave a detailed timeline during a state Senate hearing on June 21, calling law enforcement’s response an “abject failure.” He said that three minutes after the gunman, Salvador Ramos, entered the school, enough officers and firepower had been deployed to stop him. McCraw also noted that while officers spent time searching for a key to the classroom, they would have found it unlocked if they had checked.
So far, only two responding officers are known to have been put on administrative leave pending investigation of their actions: Arredondo and Lt. Mariano Pargas, a Uvalde Police Department officer who was the city’s acting police chief during the massacre.
The state House report said that according to the school district’s active shooter policy, Arredondo should have assumed command at the scene, but Arredondo told the committee he didn’t consider himself in charge.
The report said that despite the “obvious deficiencies in command and control at the scene,” no law enforcement responders offered Arredondo command assistance.
Below is a minute-by-minute look at the tragic events that day.
Sometime after 11 a.m. — Ramos shoots his grandmother in the face. Gilbert Gallegos, 82, who was in his backyard across the street from Ramos’ and his grandmother’s home, heard the shot. He sees Ramos speed away in a pickup truck as Ramos’ grandmother pleads for help. Covered in blood, “She says: ‘Berto, this is what he did. He shot me,'” says Gallegos, whose wife calls the police.
11:21 a.m. — Ramos says in a text message to a teen in Germany that he just shot his grandmother and is going to go “shoot up” an elementary school, McCraw tells the state Senate hearing on June 21.
11:27 a.m. — Video shows a teacher, who authorities haven’t publicly identified, propping open an exterior door of the school, McCraw says on May 27.
11:28 a.m. — Ramos crashes the pickup into a drainage ditch near the school, state police say in a timeline released June 21, citing footage from a funeral home opposite the school.
11:29 a.m. — Two men at the funeral home run out to see what happened, the footage shows. They see Ramos jump out of the passenger side carrying an AR-15-style rifle and a bag full of ammunition. Ramos shoots at the men three times but misses, McCraw says on June 21. One of the men falls but both make it back to the funeral home, McCraw says on May 27. The teacher calls 911 and reports a man with a gun, state police say in their June 21 timeline, citing phone recordings. DPS spokesman Travis Considine says on May 31 that after propping open the door, the teacher had run back inside to grab her phone to call 911 but when she came back out she realized Ramos had a gun. She removed the rock propping open the door and it closed behind her, but the door did not lock, Considine says.
At some point just after the crash, Robb Elementary coach Yvette Silva, who was outdoors with a group of third graders, saw Ramos toss his backpack over a school fence and climb over, then raise a gun and begin to shoot, the state House report says. Running from the field toward her classroom, she reports what she’d seen to the school office via a school radio. Principal Mandy Gutierrez tries to initiate lockdown using the school’s alert software but has trouble with the school’s Wi-Fi signal, the report says. She didn’t announce a lockdown over the intercom but told the head custodian to ensure all doors were locked. The report says the custodian started locking doors from the outside but heard gunshots and went to the cafeteria, where he remained.
About 11:30 a.m. — Teachers start to lock down based mostly on word-of-mouth reports about the gunman, the state House committee says. Teachers told the committee of hearing Silva yelling and the sounds of gunshots. One teacher in room 105 says she did receive the school’s lockdown alert, at 11:32 a.m.
11:31 a.m. — Ramos shoots at the school and a patrol car accelerates into the parking lot, driving by Ramos, the funeral home video shows. The Uvalde school district police officer on duty wasn’t on campus, contrary to previous reports, McCraw says on May 27. The officer drives to the school after getting a report about the shooting and approaches someone at the back of the school who he thought was the gunman. As the officer sped toward the man, who turned out to be a teacher, McCraw says the officer “drove right by the suspect who was hunkered down behind” a vehicle.
11:32 a.m. — Ramos fires multiple shots outside the school, according to state police on June 21, citing school surveillance. In audio of the 911 call from the teacher obtained by the Austin American-Statesman, she can be heard shouting: “Get down! Get in your rooms! Get in your rooms!”
Around this time, the state House report, says, Uvalde police Staff Sgt. Eduardo Canales, commander of the SWAT team, arrived at the school and saw a man firing a gun. He grabbed his rifle, put in a magazine, grabbed an extra magazine and heard someone say the attacker was in or near the building. He entered an open gate and met up with city police Lt. Javier Martinez. Another city officer, Sgt. Daniel Coronado, soon arrived and heard gunfire while getting out of his patrol car.
Another officer, who was not identified, told the state House committee that he believed the shooter was firing in their direction. When he saw a person dressed in black that he thought was the gunman, he raised his rifle and asked Coronado for permission to shoot. Coronado said he heard the request but hesitated because there were children present. The officer who made the request said there was no opportunity for Coronado to respond before they heard on the radio that the attacker was running toward the school. The officers told the committee that it turned out the person in black wasn’t the attacker, but elementary school coach Abraham Gonzales, who was headed to the parking lot for his lunch break.
The committee said this contradicts a report released July 6 by a training center at Texas State University for active shooter situations, which said that a city officer had watched Ramos walk toward campus but didn’t fire while waiting for permission from a supervisor to shoot. On July 8, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin disputed the training center report, saying no city police officer saw the gunman outside the school and none had an opportunity to shoot him. He said that while an officer did see someone outside, the officer could not tell who it was.
11:33 a.m. — Ramos enters the school through the unlocked door on the school’s west side and begins shooting into adjoining fourth-grade classrooms 111 and 112, school surveillance footage shows. Ramos then enters, exits and re-enters classrooms 111 and 112. The state House report says Ramos spent about two and a half minutes rapidly firing over 100 rounds between the two rooms. The report says it is most likely Ramos entered through the door to room 111, finding it unlocked or unsecured. The report says there’s evidence that one of the two teachers in room 112, Irma Garcia, who died in the attack, did lock her door. The report says there’s substantial evidence that the door to room 111 didn’t secure properly. The report says the teacher in room 111, Arnulfo Reyes, who was shot but survived, told the House committee he had no recollection of getting a lockdown alert or any memory that he took the “special effort” needed to get his door to lock before the attacker arrived. The state House report says problems with the room 111 door lock had been reported to the school administration, but no one placed a work order for a repair.
11:35 a.m. — Three city police officers enter the school through the west door, the same door Ramos entered, according to school surveillance footage. The state House report says that these officers were Martinez, Canales and city officer Louis Landry. The report says that Martinez said he heard gunfire from inside the building before entering and then heard “a few muffled shots.”
11:36 a.m. — Arredondo, another school district officer and two more city police officers enter through the building’s south door, according to school surveillance footage. The state House report says that city officer Donald Page and school district officer Adrian Gonzalez were the first to enter, followed by Arredondo and Coronado. The report says Page and Gonzales heard rounds, as did Coronado, who yelled, “shots fired.” Surveillance footage shows three more city police officers and another officer from the school district then entered through the west door.
11:36 a.m. — Uvalde police dispatch gets a report that a woman, who turned out to be Ramos’ grandmother, had been shot in the head, the state House report says. Uvalde County Sheriff Ruben Nolasco told the committee that while on his way to the school, he learned about the woman from a man who flagged him down. The committee said other information suggests he learned of the shooting by other means, possibly earlier, and are requesting additional records.
11:37 a.m. — The officers converge from both sides of the hallway on rooms 111 and 112, the state House report says. Ramos fires as officers approach the classroom doors, according to school surveillance footage. McCraw says on June 21 that Ramos fired 11 rounds at this time and two officers were “grazed.” The state House report says Martinez was grazed on the top of his head by fragments of building material, while fragments also hit Canales on his ear. Both retreated, along with Landry. The report, without giving an exact time, says that after the initial shock of taking gunfire, Martinez returned down the hallway toward rooms 111 and 112 but no other officers followed him. He later helped evacuate children and was ultimately among the officers when the classroom was finally breached.
11:38 a.m. — An unidentified officer says, “He’s contained in this office,” according to state police, citing body camera footage on June 21. McCraw testified the same day that the school floor plan showed no office in the classroom. Canales can be heard saying on his body camera after retreating down the hall, and as he walked in and out of the building: “Dude, we’ve got to get in there. We’ve got to get in there, he just keeps shooting. We’ve got to get in there.” Another officer can be heard saying: “DPS is sending their people.” The state House report says Coronado’s body camera shows him making a request by radio for ballistic shields and helicopter support.
11:40 a.m. — Arredondo calls a Uvalde police landline, state police say, citing phone records. Thirty-five seconds later, Ramos fires one round, according to school surveillance footage. According to a transcript of Arredondo’s call released by state police, he says he’s in the building and a man “has an AR-15, he shot a whole bunch of times.” He says they’re inside the building and the shooter is in a room, adding: “I need a lot of firepower, so I need this building surrounded. Surrounded with as many AR-15s as possible.” He tells the dispatcher that he doesn’t have a radio with him. Arredondo says he’s in the hallway and that the shooter is in rooms 111 and 112. “We need this place surrounded and if you have SWAT I need them set up,” Arredondo says. “We don’t have enough firepower right now, it’s all pistol and he has an AR-15.” He says he needs a radio and a rifle.
The state House report says Arredondo arrived at the school with his radios but he dropped them by the school fence because they bothered him, and he knew Coronado had his.
11:41 a.m. — A city police officer says, “We believe that he is barricaded in one of the offices, there’s still shooting,” according to body camera footage. When dispatch asks if the door is locked, a city police officer replies by referring to a specialized crow bar, saying, “I am not sure but we have a hooligan to break it.” School surveillance footage shows two constables, a fire marshal and a Uvalde city police officer. After arriving on the north end of the hallway, Constable Johnny Field began communicating by phone with Arredondo, who was on the south end, the state House report says. Arredondo told the committee that the only direction he gave, through Field, was to evacuate kids and to test keys. The report says the city’s acting police chief that day, Pargas, dominated the north end of the building. Pargas told the committee he figured Arredondo was in command but he was never in communication with him and did not coordinate with any other responding agencies.
11:42 a.m. — A state trooper and two city police officers enter from the east hallway, according to school surveillance footage.
11:43 a.m. — After radio traffic indicates the attacker is in room 112 and the question is asked whether students are in there, Coronado asks for a mirror to look around corners. A voice on the radio says, “the class should be in session,” the state House report says, citing Coronado’s body camera footage. The report says that after the initial responders took fire, Coronado remained outside for about 30 minutes, advising officers about potential crossfire in the hall and helping evacuate students through windows on the west side of the building.
11:44 a.m. — Ramos fires one round, according to school surveillance footage. A city police officer says,: “Have some officers that are available get everybody back,” according to body camera footage.
11:48 a.m. — Body camera footage shows school district officer Ruben Ruiz, the husband of one of the teachers in the classrooms, enter the building through the west door and tell other officers, “She says she is shot.” His wife, Eva Mireles, who was in room 112, later dies. McCraw says on June 21: “What happened to (Ruiz) is he tried to move forward into the hallway, he was detained and they took his gun away from him and they escorted him from the scene.” He did not say exactly when that was.
11:50 a.m. — Body camera footage shows an unknown officer saying, “They need to get out of the hallway.” The state House report says Coronado replies: “Chief is in there. Chief is in charge right now.” The report says that suggests Arredondo was in control and in communication with the other side of the building.
11:51 a.m. — Seven Border Patrol agents enter through the west door, according to school surveillance footage.
11:52 a.m. — The first ballistic shield is bought into the building through the west door, according to school surveillance footage. Body camera footage captures a city police officer saying, “Units just showing up, can you help with crowd control?” McCraw says on June 21, “So, officers after 11:52 were being diverted to crowd control activities.”
11:53 a.m. — Body camera footage shows an unknown officer telling a DPS special agent that all they currently need is perimeter. Someone asks whether there are still kids inside, and the DPS special agent responds: “If there is then they just need to go in.”
11:54 a.m. — According to body camera footage, a DPS agent asks an unknown officer, “Are kids still in there?” The officer responds, “It’s unknown at this time.” A city police officer says: “He’s in classroom 111 or 112. But chief is making contact with him. No one has made contact with him.”
11:56 a.m. — According to body camera footage, an unidentified officer says, “Y’all don’t know if there’s kids in there?” The state House report says that DPS Special Agent Luke Williams replied, “If there’s kids in there, we need to go in there.” The unknown officer says: “What’s that?” The DPS special agent says, “If there’s kids in there, we need to go in there.” The unknown officer says, “Whoever is in charge will determine that.” The state House report says Williams then resumes clearing classrooms, which he’d started upon his arrival after disregarding a request to assist on the perimeter. The state House report notes that at this time, according to a timeline released by DPS, radio communication of unknown origin says it’s “critical for everybody to let PD take point on this.” The state House report says none of the witnesses interviewed indicated any knowledge of that communication, nor did they know what it meant. The report says the consensus of those interviewed was that officers on the scene either assumed Arredondo was in charge or couldn’t tell that anyone was in charge.
11:58 a.m. — According to a phone recording, when an unidentified officer asks where the shooter is, another unidentified officer replies: “The school chief of police is in there with him.” According to body camera footage, a DPS special agent says: “It sounds like a hostage rescue situation. Sounds like a rescue, they should probably go in.”
12:01 a.m. — According to body camera, when a DPS special agent says he wants to clear more rooms, an unidentified officer says, “Don’t you think we should have a supervisor approve that?” The DPS special agent replies, “He’s not my supervisor.”
12:03 p.m. — A 911 call from a student inside the classroom comes in, and that is relayed on police radio, the state House report says. The girl was in room 112, and was the only uninjured child in that room, according to McCraw. Eight children and two teachers were killed in the classroom and nine children were injured, he says on June 21. Surveillance shows a second ballistic shield being carried into the building through the west door, where as many as 19 officers were in the hallway outside the classrooms where Ramos was holed up.
12:04 p.m. — School surveillance shows a third ballistic shield being carried into the building.
12:06 p.m. — Anne Marie Espinoza, a school district spokeswoman, posts on the district’s Facebook page: “All campuses are under a Lockdown Status. Uvalde CISD Parents: Please know at this time all campuses are under a Lockdown Status due to gunshots in the area. The students and staff are safe in the buildings. The buildings are secure in a Lockdown Status. Your cooperation is needed at this time by not visiting the campus. As soon as the Lockdown Status is lifted you will be notified. Thank you for your cooperation!”
12:09 p.m. — According to body camera footage, a city police officer says, “Go around and get the master key to the rooms.”
12:10 p.m. — Members of a U.S. Border Patrol tactical team arrive, according to body camera footage. The first group of deputy U.S. marshals from Del Rio arrive from nearly 70 miles (115 kilometers) away to assist officers on the scene, according to the Marshals Service. The female student who called 911 at 12:03 p.m. calls 911 again and says there are multiple dead, McCraw says on May 27.
12:11 p.m. — Arredondo requests the master key, according to body camera footage.
12:13 p.m. — The female student calls 911 again, McCraw says on May 27.
12:14 p.m. — Arredondo tells officers to have a sniper on the east roof, according to body camera footage.
12:15 p.m. — A Border Patrol tactical team member enters the building, according to school surveillance footage.
12:16 p.m. — According to body camera footage, Arredondo says, “I just need a key.” The female student who called 911 earlier calls again and says there are eight to nine students alive, McCraw says on May 27.
12:17 p.m. — According to body camera footage, Arredondo says: “Tell them to (obscenity) wait. No one comes in.”
12:19 p.m. — A girl in room 111 calls 911 and ends the call when a fellow student tells her to hang up, McCraw says May 27.
12:20 p.m. — A fourth ballistic shield is brought into the building through the west door, according to school surveillance footage. It is the only shield that was rifle-rated, the state House report says.
12:21 p.m. — Ramos fires four rounds, according to school surveillance footage. According to body camera footage, Arredondo says: “Can you go get a breaching tool? Like for a trailer house?” McCraw says during his June 21 testimony, “So if this is a barricaded subject, why is he still firing?”
12:23 p.m. — According to body camera footage, Arredondo says: “We’ve lost two kids. These walls are thin. If he starts shooting we’re going to lose more kids. I hate to say we have to put those to the side right now.”
12:24 p.m. — According to body camera footage, Arredondo tries to communicate with Ramos in English and Spanish. “The entire communications was always one way. The suspect never communicated. So it wasn’t communication, we’re talking at,” McCraw said on June 21.
12:26 p.m. — According to body camera footage, an unknown officer says: “There’s a teacher shot in there.” A city police officer replies, “I know.”
12:27 p.m. — According to body camera footage, Arredondo says: “People are going to ask why we’re taking so long. We’re trying to preserve the rest of the life.” He then said: “Do we have a team ready to go? Do we have a team ready to go? Have at it.”
12:28 p.m. — According to body camera footage, Arredondo says: “There is a window over there obviously. The door is probably going to be locked. That is the nature of this place. I am going to get some more keys to test.” He then says: “These master keys aren’t working here, bro. We have master keys and they’re not working.”
Just before 12:30 p.m. — The state House report reports a burst of activity on the north side, including officers apparently preparing to breach the classrooms, indicating the Border Patrol tactical team had assumed command.
12:30 p.m. — According to body camera footage, Arredondo says: “OK. We’ve cleared out everything except for that room. We still have people down there just past the flag to the right. But, uh, we’re ready to breach but that door is locked.”
12:33 p.m. — According to body camera footage, Arredondo says: “I say we breach through those windows and shoot his (obscenity) head off through the windows.”
12:35 p.m. — A breaching tool is brought into the building through the west door, according to school surveillance footage. The state House committee says it received no evidence that the arrival of the breaching tool was ever communicated to Arredondo.
12:36 p.m. — A 911 call that lasts for about 21 seconds comes in. Around this time a student calls 911 and is told to stay on the line and stay very quiet, McCraw says on May 27. “He shot the door,” the girl says.
12:38 p.m. — According to body camera footage, Arredondo tries again to communicate with Ramos in English and Spanish.
12:41 p.m. — According to body camera footage, Arredondo says: “Just so you understand, we think there are some injuries in there. And so you know what we did, we cleared off the rest of the building so we wouldn’t have anymore besides what’s already in there, obviously.”
12:42 p.m. — According to body camera footage, Arredondo says: “We’re having a (obscenity) problem getting into the room because it is locked. He’s got an AR-15 and he’s shooting everywhere like crazy. So, he’s stopped.”
12:43 p.m. — The girl who called 911 and was told to stay on the line urges the dispatcher to “please send the police now,” McCraw says on May 27. According to body camera footage, Arredondo says: “They gotta get that (obscenity) door open, bro. They can’t get that door open. We need more keys or something.”
12:46 p.m. — According to body camera footage, Arredondo says, “If y’all are ready to do it, you do it but you should distract him out that window.” McCraw says on May 27 that at this time, the girl who called 911 and was told to stay on the line says she can “hear the police next door.”
12:47 p.m. — A sledgehammer is brought into the building through the east hallway, according to school surveillance footage. McCraw says on May 27 that the girl still on the line with the 911 dispatcher says, “Please send the police now.”
12:50 p.m. — Officers breach the classroom and fatally shoot Ramos, according to surveillance footage. McCraw asserts on May 27 that they breached the door using keys they got from the janitor because the door was locked. But on June 21, he says the classroom door could not be locked from the inside and there was no indication officers tried to open it during the standoff. He also says a teacher reported before the shooting that the lock was broken.
Arredondo tells the state House committee that he didn’t send in the Border Patrol tactical team that eventually breached the classroom. Paul Guerrero, the acting commander of the Border Patrol team, tells the committee that after obtaining a master key, he had another agent use the rifle-rated shield to cover him as he placed a key in the door to room 111 and opened it. The committee notes there’s reason to question if the door was actually locked. Guerrero says Ramos was standing in front of a closet in the corner of the room 111 when the officers rushed in. He said Ramos fired at the officers, who returned fire and killed him.
State police say an hour and 14 minutes went by from the time police entered the school to when Ramos was killed.
Associated Press writer Sean Murphy contributed to this report.
For more AP coverage of the Uvalde school shooting: https://apnews.com/hub/uvalde-school-shooting
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