A teacher did not, as previously stated, leave a door propped open with a rock during the massacre at Robb elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, last week, but closed it before the attacks began – only for the door to not automatically lock, Texas state investigators said.
The gunman used the door to get inside, where he killed 19 students and two teachers.
The finding, released by Texas department of public safety on Tuesday, contradicts an earlier account in which they said a teacher had propped the door open shortly before Salvador Ramos, 18, entered the building. Law enforcement did not intervene in the attack for approximately one hour and 20 minutes.
Travis Considine, chief communications officer for the department, said investigators had determined that the teacher, who has not been identified, propped the door open with a rock but removed it, closing the door, when she ran back inside to get her phone and call 911 after the gunman crashed his truck on campus on the elementary school campus.
The door, he said, was designed to lock when shut, but did not. “We did verify she closed the door. The door did not lock. We know that much and now investigators are looking into why it did not lock,” Considine said.
“She came back out while on her phone, she heard someone yell, ‘He has a gun!’, she saw him jump the fence and that he had a gun, so she ran back inside,” removing the rock when she did, Considine added.
San Antonio attorney Don Flanary told the San Antonio Express-News that the teacher “kicked the rock away when she went back in. She remembers pulling the door closed while telling 911 that he was shooting.”
The account comes as official accounts of the timeline of the mass shooting shifted in the days following the shooting on 24 May. Investigators are still trying to interview the Uvalde Consolidated Independent school district police chief, Pete Arredondo, who took charge of the law enforcement response. He was sworn into an elected Uvalde city council post on Tuesday.
Steven McCraw, director of the safety department, said Arredondo treated the scene as a hostage situation and not an active shooter situation. McCraw called it the “wrong decision”.
The response to the mass shooting, the deadliest school shooting in nearly a decade in the US, is now being investigated by the justice department. The Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas (Cleat), which advocates for law enforcement in the state, has urged officers to cooperate with “all government investigations”.
“There has been a great deal of false and misleading information in the aftermath of this tragedy. Some of the information came from the very highest levels of government and law enforcement,” Cleat said. “Sources that Texans once saw as iron-clad and completely reliable have now been proven false.”
A timeline compiled by CNN shows that 19 law enforcement officers were in the hallway outside the classroom where Ramos was holed up at 12.03pm. By 12.15pm, US marshals and the border patrol’s tactical unit, Bortac, were also outside the classroom.
Several students called 911 pleading for help as gunshots were heard. It was not until 12.50pm that border patrol forced their way in and killed Ramos. Investigators have said they found 142 spent cartridges in the classroom.