A “negotiator” tried futilely to reach the Uvalde, Texas school shooter on the phone as cops waited to take out the crazed gunman and terrified kids called 911 begging for help, the city’s mayor said.
Mayor Don McLaughlin said he stood by the unidentified negotiator at Hillcrest Funeral Home near Robb Elementary School, where 18-year-old Salvador Ramos killed 19 kids and two teachers last Tuesday.
“His main goal was to try to get this person on the phone,” McLaughlin said in a joint interview on Wednesday with Telemundo San Antonio and the Washington Post.
“They tried every number they could find” but Ramos didn’t answer, the Post reported.
The mayor said he didn’t know about the harrowing 911 calls coming from children inside two connected classrooms where the carnage unfolded – with one caller allegedly pleading with an emergency dispatcher to “please send the police now!”
McLaughlin said he didn’t believe the negotiator knew about those calls, either.
The latest revelation comes as local law enforcement officials face mounting scrutiny about how they handled the response to the shooting, which unfolded over more than an hour. The gunman shot his grandmother in her home, then crashed her pickup truck in a ditch near the school at just before 11:30 a.m.
The latest from the Texas school shooting
The gunman entered the school at 11:33 a.m. but he wasn’t killed until 12:50 p.m. when a tactical unit arrived and unlocked a door to the interconnected classrooms, officials have said. Pete Arredondo, chief of the Uvalde school district police department, is facing questions over why he decided to wait to breach the door even though the first officers entered the building minutes after Ramos.
The Texas Department of Public Safety chief said Arredondo made the “wrong decision” to treat the standoff as “barricaded suspect” rather than an active shooter crisis. Law enforcement is to confront a gunman as soon as possible during an active shooter situation, officials have said.
As questions mount about why cops stood back while people were still alive in the classrooms, Arredondo has tried to stay out of the public eye. The mayor said Monday he hadn’t spoken to Arredondo, the Post reported.
McLaughlin, a Republican in favor of expanded background checks, also revealed students at Robb would be enrolled in other schools.
“I hope we tear it down to the ground,” he said in the interview. “I would never expect a teacher, a student, anyone to go walk back in that building.”