"They say they rushed in. We didn't see that," says Javier Cazares, whose fourth-grade daughter Jacklyn Cazares was killed in the mass shooting at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, reported AP.
After 19 children and two adults were killed on Tuesday, 24 May, in the attack, serious questions have been raised about the role of the police in taking timely action to stop the 18-year-old shooter.
Indeed, the police were asked about the same on Thursday, to which Victor Escalon, regional director for the Texas Department of Public Safety, told reporters that he had "taken all those questions into consideration."
Even Texas Governor Greg Abbott has defended the police response, stating at a news conference that "it is a fact that because of their quick response getting on the scene, being able to respond to the gunman and eliminate the gunman, they were able to save lives."
Testimonies from parents and bystanders, however, might be revealing a different story about the extent of time the police took while the gunman was on his killing spree.
70 Minutes: A Timeline of Events
“Go in there! Go in there!” shouted some of the women at the officers as the attack began.
Twenty-four-year-old Juan Carranza saw this scene unfold from his house and told AP that the cops did not move in despite the repeated pleas by those woman close to the scene of the crime.
To better evaluate the police's reaction, a brief timeline of events may help.
The first noteworthy time stamp is 11:28 am, which is when Salvador Ramos crashed his vehicle into a ditch outside the school.
It is at this point that he took out his AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle and started shooting at two people who were walking out of a funeral home across the street.
At 11:30 am, the police received the first 911 call.
Ten minutes later, at 11:40 am, the shooter just walked into the west side of the school thanks to an unlocked door, and started firing.
At this point of time, 11:40 am, no officer confronted the gunman because, according to Regional Director Escalon, "there was not an officer readily available."
Then, at 11:43 am, the school posted on Facebook that it was locked down due to gunshots in the area. "The students and staff are safe in the building," the announcement read, according to The Washington Post.
From accounts, it appears that the first exchange of gunfire between the shooter and the police occurred at 11:44 am.
The officers moved back and took cover, and started calling for reinforcements, tactical teams and weapons, according to Reuters.
But here's the horrifying part. It was only between 12:40 pm and 1 pm that the US Border Patrol tactical teams arrived, entered the classroom, and shot the gunman dead.
The shooter had 70 minutes since the first 911 emergency call to run riot in the school.
This, despite, some children managing to flee the school at 12 pm, according to a video reviewed by The Washington Post.
What is also a bit bizarre is that the school posted another alert on the lockdown at 12:06 pm, stating, "The students and staff are safe in the buildings."
It took them 11 more minutes, at 12:17 pm, to announce that there is "an active shooter at Robb Elementary. Law enforcement is on site."
'They Are Just Standing There'
"There were plenty of men out there armed to the teeth that could have gone in faster," Cazares, whose daughter was murdered in the attack, said. "More kids would have been saved, in my opinion."
Saying that the police were "unprepared", Cazares had wanted to storm the building with other parents and bystanders. "Let's just rush in because the cops aren’t doing anything like they are supposed to. More could have been done."
"There were five or six of [us] fathers, hearing the gunshots, and [police officers] were telling us to move back. We didn’t care about us. We wanted to storm the building," he said, added the AP report.
Other parents and observers concur with Cazares' understanding and version of the event.
"They are all f***ing parking outside, man – they need to go in there, they are all in there. The cops aren’t doing sh** but standing outside," shouted one father, according to The Guardian.
"You know that there are kids, right? There are little kids. They don’t know how to defend themselves from the shooter," he had added in distress.
Similarly, another mother, who wanted to go inside the school to intervene, had yelled, "I’m going to go. All these kids are in the school and they are just standing there. Our kids are there, my son is right there," reported The Guardian.
One mother told the Wall Street Journal that officers handcuffed her for "interfering in an active investigation" when she begged them to get inside the school. The police have rejected her claims.
Cazares' brothers, who was also at the scene, had said, "It took them 45 minutes to do what? Nothing."
Due to these accusations raised against the police by parents and bystanders, Texas Democrat Joaquin Castro has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate the Uvalde massacre and the police response to it.
"The people of Uvalde, of Texas, and of the nation deserve an accurate account of what transpired," Castro wrote in his letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Katherine Schweit, who is a retired senior FBI official who started the active-shooter program of the agency, said that officers were trained to immediately neutralise a shooter, The Washington Post.
"Even if somebody locks themselves behind a door, we want to go in and get that guy. And even if a shooter is no longer firing, anybody with a gun who's killed people is an active threat until they’re neutralised," she was quoted as saying.
Schweit did add, however, that it was too early to blame the police and we should wait for the all facts to come out.
(With inputs from Associated Press, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, and the Wall Street Journal.)