Authorities gave an update to media in Uvalde, Texas, on May 26, confirming that local police were on the scene at Robb Elementary School for “approximately an hour” before entering the classroom where a gunman who killed 19 people was.
Texas Department of Public Safety South Texas Regional Director Victor Escalon addressed the media on Thursday afternoon and took several questions.
According to Escalon, the initial report of the suspect’s vehicle crash was at 11:30 am on May 24. At 11:40 am, the suspect entered the school building through an unlocked door on its west side, authorities said.
“Approximately an hour later,” a team of Border Patrol tactical agents arrived on the scene, entered the classroom where the gunman was, and shot and killed him, police said.
On Thursday, authorities confirmed they were examining the police’s response to the gunman.
In footage verified by Storyful, anguished parents engaged verbally and physically with police as they waited outside the school for answers and information on the day of the shooting. Credit: Uvalde Police Department via Storyful
- Constable, Constable, are you going to stand there during the news conference?
- It it possible to get a shot down because you're blocking the television cameras.
- I got it.
- No, no, no, no, no, no, no, don't put it on the ground.
- What if we give you a press conference [INAUDIBLE] outside [INAUDIBLE].
VICTOR ESCALON: Good afternoon, everybody.
- Has a question for me.
VICTOR ESCALON: Good afternoon, everybody. My name is Victor Escalon, regional director for DPS South Texas. Thank you so much for being here today. My goal today on this press conference is to give you a snapshot of where we're at today.
This incident happened on Tuesday, May 24th, so there's a lot of information, a lot of moving parts. We have a lot of people involved in this investigation. I'm going to give you a summary of what happened.
But before I do that, I was able to make it here during the event on May 24, same with a lot of other law enforcement officers came to this event, this critical incident. I got to see the victims. I got to see the officers. I got to see the community members.
It is so hard. It is very-- it's hard to take. It's traumatic for us. We're all hurting inside. We're hurting inside for the community members in Uvalde, Texas. We're hurting inside with our local partners that have to live here and work here every day. The victims, the family members, we feel for them.
I'm a father. I can go home tonight and hug my kids. That hurts. The members behind me are family members. Their kids-- it's tough. It's tough. It's hard. But that gives us the motivation to move on, to do good work for Uvalde, Texas, for the victims. We speak for the victims, and we take that dearly.
Before I get started, Texas Rangers are leading this investigation. So we can't do it alone. We cannot do it alone. We have ATF, FBI, CBP, Border Patrol. Uvalde County District Attorney's Office. The list goes on, and on, and on. But the agencies I told you are the main ones that are assisting with the investigation.
We want to know what happened, recreate the scene. That takes days. That takes hours. That takes time. A lot of information. Then we have to do a lot of interviews. So we just started. We started on Tuesday. Today's Thursday. We're still grabbing a lot of information.
Also what's important to us is why. Why did he do this? Why did he do this? Who is this man, the suspect? We're going to find out.
With all the different agencies that are involved, we're working every angle that's available. We won't stop until we get all the answers that we possibly can. So again, I want to thank the men and women that are behind us supporting the DPS and the Rangers.
So there's a lot of information I'm going to give you. There's some new information as of Tuesday that I wanted to clear up, that we want to clear up, that's been pushed out. We'll continue to have updates in the coming days once the information is obtained, and we're able to confirm and corroborate that. We want to make sure we're pushing out the right information.
Early on when we came in, we were receiving a lot of information from a lot of different locations. That's a baseline. You start there. We made some reports.
But since then, we started doing interviews, we started working the crime scene, so we're corroborating. I want to share some of that. It's a small piece of information right now, but it'll grow within days. So please, thank you for being here and being patient with us. It means a lot.
On Tuesday, May 24, at 11:28, suspect just west of here wrecks his vehicle, a pickup truck that he took from his grandmother's. He had just shot his grandmother in the face. She's alive. She's stable at this point.
11:28, he's sitting there at the partage.-- He jumps out the passenger side of the truck. According to witnesses, he's got a long-arm rifle and a bag. Later we find out it's ammunition.
He walks around. He sees two witnesses at the funeral home across the street from where he wrecked. He engages and fires towards them.
He continues walking. He continues walking towards the school. He climbs a fence. Now he's in the parking lot shooting at the school multiple times. 11:40, he walks into the west side of Robb Elementary.
According to reports, video we have obtained from outside, inside-- and again, we're still combing through that, so bear with us-- multiple rounds, numerous rounds are discharged in the school. We're trying to get a number. We're in the process of analyzing that video.
Four minutes later, local police departments, Uvalde Police Department, the Independent School District Police Department are inside making entry. They hear gunfire. They take rounds. They move back, get cover. And during that time, they approach, the suspect is out.
According to the information that I have, he went in at 11:40. He walks-- and I'm doing approximate-- 20 feet, 30 feet. He makes a right. He walks into the hallway. He makes a right; walks another 20 feet. Turns left into a schoolroom, into a classroom that has doors open in the middle.
Officers are there. The initial officers, they receive gunfire. They don't make entry initially because of the gunfire they're receiving. But we have officers calling for additional resources, everybody that's in the area, tactical teams. We need equipment. We need specialty equipment. We need body armor. We need precision riflemen, negotiators.
So during this time that they're making those calls to bring in help to solve this problem and stop it immediately, they're also evacuating personnel. When I say personnel, students, teachers. There's a lot going on, a complex situation. They're measuring. They're measuring.
Approximately an hour later, US Border Patrol tactical teams arrive. They make entry, shoot and kill the suspect. But you also had a Uvalde County Deputy and Uvalde Police Department that made entry and killed the suspect. Immediately, numerous officers.
Now it turns into a rescue operation. How do we save these children? How do we save these children? Some made it out. We don't have a hard number yet. But that was the goal. And then continuing, making the area safe continued. A lot of moving parts afterwards. But during, they were taking gunfire, negotiations, and developing a team to make entry to stop him.
I'll take a few questions. And again, look, in summary-- one more thing I forgot to mention that I want to clear up that came out early on, it was reported that a school district police officer confronted the suspect that was making entry. Not accurate. He walked in unobstructed initially.
So from the grandmother's house, to the [? partage ?] to the school, into the school, he was not confronted by anybody, to clear the record on that. Four minutes later, law enforcement are coming in to solve this problem.
- So director, how is he able to get access? [INAUDIBLE]
VICTOR ESCALON: So just want to clear that up. That's very important. And again, this will happen as we go forward. So thank you. I'll take a few questions.
- How did he get in if it was a school that's supposed to be locked during the school day?
VICTOR ESCALON: So right now during the investigation, it appears it was unlocked. So we're going to look at that and try to corroborate that as best as we can.
- How many gunshots were there?
- Do you know why it was unlocked?
VICTOR ESCALON: Please, one at a time. And we'll address as many questions as we can. So let me finish this question.
- One at a time, announce your names, and announce your networks, OK?
- I'm with ABC News. My name is Josh [INAUDIBLE]. Do you know why it was unlocked?
VICTOR ESCALON: So Josh, thank you for the question. So right now, it appears it was unlocked. Like I said, it goes back to the investigation. It takes time. We will find out as much as we can why it was unlocked, or maybe it was locked. But right now, it appears it was unlocked.
KERRY SANDERS: Kerry Sanders, NBC News. My question is you say at one point when he was inside there, among the things, you were attempting negotiation. Was he responding to negotiation? And in that period of time, was there continued gunfire?
VICTOR ESCALON: So during that time-- right now, according to the information we have, the majority of the gunfire was in the beginning, in the beginning. I'd say numerous, more than 25. I mean, it was a lot of gunfire in the beginning.
During the negotiations, there wasn't much gunfire other than trying to keep the officers at bay. But that could change once we analyze the video. But right now, according to information, he did not respond.
- [INAUDIBLE] with NBC News. My question is this. Was there a school officer on campus? And was that school officer armed, because that's what we've been told?
VICTOR ESCALON: So at this time, no. No, there was not an officer readily available armed, no. No, nothing. I can't answer that yet. I'll circle back with you. Again, as we do that investigation, we have all these questions we want to answer. But I'll get back with you, sir. Yeah.
- There was a 12-minute gap. There's a 12-minute gap between when he crashes his truck to when he enters the school-- 12 minutes. What happened in that 12 minutes?
VICTOR ESCALON: So you've got to understand, 11:30 is the information we have at this point that we can confirm. 11:30 AM, the PD gets, we got a crash and a man with a gun. And then you've got responding officers. That's what it is. If it's 12 minutes from 11:30 to 11:40, that's the information we have right now. Look, at the end of the day, our job is to report the facts and have those answers. We're not there yet.
- When was the first 9-1-1 call to officials? When was the first 9-1-1 call?
VICTOR ESCALON: Say it again?
- When was the first 9-1-1 call?
VICTOR ESCALON: So right now, the first 9-1-1 call is at 11:30. But we'll get the time what it took to respond. We'll have that answer.
- There were a lot of parents who were--
- You could have gone in before an hour.
- It could. There's a lot of possibilities. There's a lot of possibilities. Until we receive and interview-- because there was numerous officers at that classroom, numerous, once we interview all those officers what they were thinking, what they did, why they did it, the video, the residual interviews, we'll have a better idea could anybody have got there sooner.
You've got to understand a small town. You've got people from Eagle Pass, from Del Rio, Laredo, San Antonio responding to a small community.
- [INAUDIBLE] the information you have so far, sir, should the officers have gone in sooner? Should they have waited for a tactical team, or should they have gone right in?
VICTOR ESCALON: That's a tough question. That's a tough question. Again, it goes back, our job is to report the facts. Report the facts, and later we can answer those questions.
- But from what you know so far, should they have gone in sooner?
VICTOR ESCALON: I don't have enough information to answer that question just yet.
- One more question.
VICTOR ESCALON: One more question, please.
- Is it accurate that eyewitnesses and potentially parents of the students were urging the police to go in while you were waiting for a tactical SWAT team, even that some parents were asking to borrow police armor so they could make a counter assault on the school?
VICTOR ESCALON: I have heard that information, but we have not verified that yet.
- What part haven't you verified?
VICTOR ESCALON: We have not verified if that's a true statement or not, or is it just rumor out there. So you've got to understand, we're getting a lot of information we're trying to track down and see what is true. We want to vet it. That's all I have.
- We understand, but can you explain--
VICTOR ESCALON: Thank you so much.
- The law officer that went in that had the tactical gear--
- Did you follow best practices? Did you follow best practices for active shooting scenarios?
- [INAUDIBLE] one question [INAUDIBLE].
VICTOR ESCALON: So, look, we appreciate the questions.
- What were the officers do between 11:44 and 12:44?
- Still got a lot of questions.
- He was barricaded behind that-- you guys have said that he was barricaded. Can you explain to us how he was barricaded and why you guys did not breach that door?
VICTOR ESCALON: So I have taken all your questions into consideration. We will be doing updates. We will be doing that to answer those questions.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ: But we're here now, and you should be able to answer that question now, sir.
- I think there's a lot of--
VICTOR ESCALON: What is your name?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ: Shimon Prokupecz, CNN.
VICTOR ESCALON: Shimon, I hear you.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ: Because we've been given a lot of bad information. So why don't you clear all of this up now and explain to us how it is that your officers were in there for an hour, yes, rescuing people, but yet no one was able to get inside that room.
VICTOR ESCALON: Shimon, we will circle back with you. We want to answer all your questions. We want to give you the why. That's our job. So give us time. I'm taking all your questions. I'm taking them back to talk to the team.
- Can you tell us more?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ: Can you tell us how the door was barricaded?
VICTOR ESCALON: Thank you for being here.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ: How was the door barricaded?
VICTOR ESCALON: We'll talk soon.
- Don't forget about the video.
- [SPEAKING SPANISH]
- Can we do something in Spanish?
- Not right now.