The Texas Tribune has reviewed law enforcement transcripts and footage that federal and state investigators are examining after the May 24 tragedy.
The officers in the hallway of Robb Elementary wanted to get inside classrooms 111 and 112 — immediately. One officer’s daughter was inside. Another officer had gotten a call from his wife, a teacher, who told him she was bleeding to death.
Two closed doors and a wall stood between them and an 18-year-old with an AR-15 who had opened fire on children and teachers inside the connected classrooms. A Halligan bar — an ax-like forcible-entry tool used by firefighters to get through locked doors — was available. Ballistic shields were arriving on the scene. So was plenty of firepower, including at least two rifles. Some officers were itching to move.
One such officer, a special agent at the Texas Department of Public Safety, had arrived around 20 minutes after the shooting started. He immediately asked: Are there still kids in the classrooms?
“If there is, then they just need to go in,” the agent said.
Another officer answered, “It is unknown at this time.”
The agent shot back, “Y’all don’t know if there’s kids in there?” He added, “If there’s kids in there we need to go in there.”
“Whoever is in charge will determine that,” came the reply.
The inaction appeared too much for the special agent. He noted that there were still children in other classrooms within the school who needed to be evacuated.
“Well, there’s kids over here,” he said. “So I’m getting kids out.”
The exchange happened early in the excruciating 77 minutes on May 24 that started when Salvador Ramos, who had just shot his grandmother in the face, walked through an unlocked door of Robb Elementary, encountering no interference as he wielded an AR-15 he had bought eight days earlier. At the end of those 77 minutes, 19 students, including the daughter of one of the officers stationed in the hallway, and two teachers were dead or dying. Others sustained serious physical injuries; the emotional and psychological ones will last for life. It was the deadliest school shooting in Texas history.