The New York Times reports that a federal team of officers in tactical gear arrived on the scene and were kept out of the school by local police.

When specially equipped federal immigration agents arrived at the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, the local police at the scene would not allow them to go after the gunman who had opened fire on students inside the school, according to two officials briefed on the situation.

The agents from Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, arrived at some point between 12 p.m. and 12:10 p.m., according to the officials — far earlier than previously known. But they did not breach the adjoining classrooms of the school where the gunman had locked himself in until a little before 1 p.m. Members of the federal tactical team killed the gunman.

The officials said that members of the Uvalde Police Department kept the federal agents from going in sooner.

The new details deepened questions about the tactics used to respond to the shooting and the length of time it took officers on the scene to end the carnage

The federal agents reported that they arrived to a scene of chaos — people pulling children out of windows while the local police, carrying only handguns and a few rifles, were trying to secure a perimeter, according to one official, who like the other spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The Border Patrol and ICE agents did not understand why they were left to wait, according to the official. Eventually, the specialized Border Patrol team went into the building.

Texas law enforcement officials have said that the gunman was locked in a pair of adjoining classrooms and had already shot a number of students there in the first few minutes; with him pinned down there, they said, the local police initially focused on evacuating students and teachers from elsewhere in the school.

Law enforcement officers had initially tried to enter the classroom but fell back after the gunman fired on them, injuring two officers, state law enforcement officials said.

Most if not all of the 21 victims in the attack, including 19 students and two teachers, died in the area where the gunman, identified as Salvador Ramos, had locked himself in. The gunman was fatally shot by the federal team that entered the rooms more than an hour after the initial 911 call of a man with a gun outside the school, which came around 11:30 a.m.

The federal officers had driven up from the Mexican border, one official said. The official said it was not clear to the federal agents why their team was needed, and why the local SWAT team did not respond.

Also from the same source:

The authorities now say that local officers first entered the school at 11:35, two minutes after the gunman, and that there were 19 officers in the hallway by 12:03 p.m., but that they did not breach the door and kill the gunman until 12:50, even as they continued to hear him firing.

From the Houston Chronicle:

It remains unclear when the scene changed from an active shooter to a potential hostage barricade situation, a transition that could have altered the police response, San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said.

“The response to someone who is actually actively shooting, that response has to be immediate, and it’s through the door,” McManus said. “If it turns into a barricade situation, we are not going to make an entry while nothing is happening. We’re going to go in if something happens — shooting starts, screaming starts.”

That thinking reflects changes law enforcement agencies made after the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado, said Fulshear Police Chief Kenny Seymour, who described that 1999 massacre as “the pendulum swing” that prompted law enforcement’s current response to active-shooter situations.

“We can’t wait,” he said. “These shootings don’t allow us to call those specialized units in. We have the training, the tools, to make a difference in these shootings.”

From the Texas Tribune:

Law enforcement response: It took police an hour to stop a gunman once he entered a South Texas elementary school and killed 19 children and two teachers, according to recent details from state law enforcement officials. 

Officials with the Texas Department of Public Safety walked back their original claims that the shooter encountered a police officer employed by the school district before entering Robb Elementary School in Uvalde through a back door. In a press conference Thursday, Victor Escalon, an official with Texas DPS, did not explain why it took officers between 40 minutes and an hour to kill the gunman once he entered the school. Here are two key timestamps we do know: 

  • Uvalde police received the first call about the gunman around 11:20 a.m., when his grandmother called 911 from her home, about two minutes from Robb Elementary, after he shot her in the face. The gunman then fled in her pickup truck, crashing it in a ditch near the school and prompting a 911 call from a neighbor.
  • At 1:06 p.m. the Uvalde Police Department posted on its Facebook page that the shooter was in police custody.

The law enforcement response has sparked growing concern, and state law enforcement officials have given vague and conflicting answers on what exactly happened after the gunman arrived at the school.