Reporters were asked to leave a meeting at the Uvalde City Hall on Monday night after they were told that the Texas legislators who were present, along with law enforcement, were "intimidated" by the presence of reporters. A chaplain and parents were also asked to leave, prevented from hearing testimony about the May 24 shooting at Robb Elementary that stole the lives of 19 children and two teachers.
As he was exiting, a chaplain said "we want the truth of why they didn't protect our kids," while another father said that his children were scared. Reporters were trying to witness a hearing being held by the a committee from the Texas House of Representatives to hear testimony about the shooting and gather information about the apparently lackluster police response.
When CNN correspondent Shimon Prokupecz asked the fire marshal why they journalists were asked to leave, and exactly who was intimidated by their presence, the fire marshal told Propupecz that "we actually had a lady who had a panic attack last week."
"Because reporters were in the room?" Prokupecz asked.
"Yeah, she just freaked out," the marshal said.
Committee chair Dustin Burrows, from the Texas House, said that their intention was to hear from Uvalde Police, a school district officer, and a member of the Department of Public Safety, according to the AP. The public was not permitted to hear that testimony. Additional hearings are scheduled in Austin, Tex.
A photo emerged yesterday showing that police officers were inside the school prior than was previously reported, and stood outside the classroom where children were being massacred by a lone, teen gunman, for nearly an hour. During this time, trapped students were calling 911 begging police to intervene before they were all killed.
Officers with heavy firepower as well as tactical equipment were on the scene within 19 minutes of the arrival of that gunman, but those officers did not open the door of the classroom and attempt to stop the gunman from his bloody endeavor.
The timeline of the shooting has undergone continuous revelations and revisions, as surveillance footage and other witness testimony is pieced together. Footage shows that the gunman entered the school through a back door at 11:33 am on that fateful day, immediately walked into a classroom, and began spraying the children with bullets.
Reports from surviving children, who hid beneath tables draped with fabric, reported that the gunman "came in and he crouched a little bit and he said, he said 'It's time to die.'"
A grandmother of one of the survivors reported that her grandchild said "The shooter shot into her room twice, through the window. And then the teacher said 'get down, get down.' They all hide where they were supposed to hide. The teacher ran and locked the door."
The granddaughter said that when the gunman opened the door of the other classroom, he said "What do I have here?" And began firing.
11 officers entered the building three minutes after the gunman. School district police Chief Pete Arredondo defended the actions of his officers, who did not attempt to enter the classroom at that time, saying that "their suspect had 'shot a lot' with an AR-15-style rifle and outgunned the officers at the school, who he said were armed only with pistols."
A photo from surveillance video was released on Monday showing that officers had rifles, as well bullet-resistant shielding. At 11:52 am, officers could be seen standing around in the hallway. It wasn't until 12:50 pm, after parents had attempted to breach barricades outside, and one mother was handcuffed after telling officers to go in, that the gunman was subdued by a border patrol agent who had gotten a key to the classroom door from a janitor. Later reports indicated that the classroom doors were never even locked.
Arrendondo had initially reported that officers tried to enter the classroom, but the footage shows that officers did not try to enter either of the two joined classrooms in which the gunman was actively murdering children, and instead stood in the hall.
Two of three initial responding officers were shot and injured by the gunman, and it is perhaps these officers who had pistols and not rifles. All the victims of the gunman were in the same classroom.