A parent said she was put in handcuffs while pleading for authorities to enter Robb Elementary School in the midst of Tuesday's mass shooting, but the U.S. Marshals Service has denied her account.
Parents have expressed frustration and outrage after police took more than an hour from the initial 911 call to subdue the gunman after he killed 19 children and two teachers at the school in Uvalde, Texas.
One parent, Angeli Rose Gomez, told The Wall Street Journal that she drove 40 miles to the school after hearing about the shooting and saw the police "doing nothing" and "just standing outside the fence."
Gomez said that when she pleaded with police to run inside and confront the shooter, she was handcuffed by U.S. Marshals and told she was being arrested for intervening in an active investigation. The U.S. Marshals Service denied her account.
"Deputy marshals never arrested or placed anyone in handcuffs while securing the crime scene perimeter," the agency said in a statement. "Our deputy marshals maintained order and peace in the midst of the grief-stricken community that was gathering around the school. Our hearts are heavy with sorrow and sadness at this horrific crime."
The U.S. Marshals said in their statement that the first marshals who arrived entered the school to confront the gunman and render first aid to shooting victims. Additional marshals then secured the perimeter around the school.
The Uvalde Police Department said two of its officers were wounded early on in the attack.
Videos have surfaced appearing to show parents and local onlookers begging for law enforcement to rush into the school and stop the shooter.
“More could have been done,” school parent Javier Cazares, whose daughter was killed in the attack, told The Associated Press and later confirmed to NBC News. "They were unprepared.”
Records show the Uvalde school district had its own police force, a threat reporting system and an extensive safety plan in place. The district had doubled its security budget in recent years to comply with state legislation passed after another school shooting in 2018.
Texas Department of Public Safety director Steven McCraw said at a news conference Wednesday that law enforcement "did engage immediately" with the shooter, but authorities have since changed their initial account of the timeline of events.
"Our job is to report the facts and have those answers," Victor Escalon, the Texas DPS director for the South Texas region, said at a news conference Thursday. "We're not there yet."
Police are now saying it took more than an hour from the first 911 call to stop the gunman, when most "active shooter" attacks in the U.S. end within five minutes. DPS officials also backtracked to say there was no school officer or armed guard on campus at the time of the attack.
The gunman did not encounter any resistance as he entered the school building armed with a rifle, according to police.
Police said he shot his grandmother before crashing a truck near the school at 11:28 a.m. local time.
"From the grandmother’s house, to the car ditch, to the school into the school, he was not confronted by anybody, to clear the record on that," Escalon said at the news conference.
The gunman fired at two people outside a funeral home across the street after crashing the truck and then climbed a fence to get to the elementary school, police said.
Tactical teams did not arrive until an hour after the first responding officers called for backup, police said. Officers were finally able to enter a barricaded classroom and kill him after using a key from the principal to open the door.