Police officers never tried to open the door leading to two classrooms at Uvalde's Robb Elementary School during the 77-minute time period between when gunman Salvador Ramos, 18, got inside the room and killed 21 people and when officers got in and shot him, according to surveillance footage, says a law enforcement source.
The source, a person described by The San Antonio Express-News as a person close to the investigation, also said that investigators think Ramos could not have locked the door to the two classrooms from inside and that the latest evidence is suggesting the door may have been unlocked during the entire siege after it malfunctioned.
The school's classroom doors are designed so that they lock automatically when they're closed, and the only way to open them, ordinarily, is with a key, but the surveillance footage shows Ramos was able to open the door into classroom 111 at the school. Another door inside led to classroom 112.
He got into the school at around 11:30 a.m., entering through an exterior door that a teacher had pulled shut, but that door also did not lock automatically as it should have.
The police entered classroom 111 and shot Ramos at 12:50 p.m., but the Express-News' source said the officers had access to a crowbar-like tool, or "halligan," that they could have used to open the door even if it had been locked.
According to officials, three Uvalde police officers chased Ramos two minutes after he got into the school. The video footage shows he fired shots inside the two classrooms, came back out into the hallway, and then went back inside the rooms.
Ramos shot at the police in the hallway through the closed doors, after which the officers waited for backup rather than force their way inside where Ramos was.
Uvalde School District Police Chief Pedro "Pete," Arredondo said he had called for gear, a sniper, and keys to get into the classrooms, but held officers back for 40 minutes to avoid gunfire. A custodian brought a large key ring and the chief said he tried using dozens of the keys but they didn't work.
However, the law enforcement source told the Express-News that Arredondo wasn't trying to open the classrooms where Ramos was, but instead was trying to use the keys on other classroom doors.
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, told the newspaper he finds the new details on the door shocking.
"I'm shocked like the rest of the country at the incompetence and dereliction of duty by multiple law enforcement agencies who failed to save those kids," he said. "I'm also increasingly disturbed by what looks like an attempt to cover up the truth by state officials and the local police department who have refused to comply with requests to release information to the public."
State Rep. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, who also represents Uvalde, said he was not aware of the revelations about the door, but if true, at least "three or four extra children" and their teacher could possibly have been saved.
"We know two kids had gunshot wounds that they bled out from," he said. "We know that one teacher was alive when they pulled her out, and she died on the way to the hospital."
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