New details raise even more questions about the Texas school shooting
LEILA FADEL, HOST:
New photos in a Texas paper are raising questions. One shows two heavily armed officers in the hallway of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, one carrying a ballistic shield. It was taken about 19 minutes after the gunman walked into the school and started shooting. But it was more than an hour before police confronted him. I'm joined now by one of the reporters who broke this story, Tony Plohetski of the Austin American-Statesman. Thanks for being here.
TONY PLOHETSKI: Thanks so much for having me.
FADEL: So these new photos are just some of the evidence you've seen. There were also documents, videos. Where did this come from?
PLOHETSKI: Well, we were invited by sources to review much of this material. Keep in mind that there has been an effort among Texas journalists and journalists nationally, for that matter, to review much of the information. Authorities, unfortunately, have fought hard against releasing that information. So I think now what we are starting to see are people with access to records, to documents, to evidence about what happened that day and feel compelled by the public's right to know. And so at this stage, they are going to journalists here locally and sharing some of that information.
FADEL: So tell us more about what you found and what it said about the response that day.
PLOHETSKI: Well, it truly deepens the question about police actions that day and why they did not act sooner to, in the words of police, neutralize or take down the gunman. And according to the videos that we were able to view, authorities and police officers arrived at the scene soon after the gunman went into that classroom. And investigators now believe that they had adequate weaponry and ballistic shields to do what they needed to do far sooner to take down the gunman. Among the first photographs that we have seen, the timestamp is at 11:52 a.m. But keep in mind, they did not ultimately breach the door of that classroom until about 58 minutes later.
FADEL: So they - the gunman got on campus at 11:33. People with high firepower were there at 11:52. Is that what you're saying?
PLOHETSKI: That's right. That's exactly right.
FADEL: And then, they didn't breach for another - almost an hour?
PLOHETSKI: That's right.
FADEL: Now, this information will be presented to a Texas Senate hearing in Austin today, right?
PLOHETSKI: Much of the information will be presented. It's a little unclear at this time whether or not the video or photograph evidence will be part of the presentation that the head of the state police here in Texas makes today. However, we are expecting him to release a far more extensive timeline that is built around timestamps on videos, both body camera videos from the responding officers, as well as security cameras from inside the hallway of that school.
FADEL: And what's the response been like to your reporting? I mean, this really shows - breaks down what happened that day.
PLOHETSKI: I think, once again, it has reignited the extent of the tragedy. And people are looking at this photo and, again, asking themselves why more was not done to potentially save more children in a window when it could have possibly have mattered.
FADEL: Is there an answer to that question?
PLOHETSKI: There is not so far an answer to that question. The truth is the people who are in the best position to provide that answer were those responding officers. And at this point, they've chosen to make no public statements.
FADEL: Tony Plohetski of the Austin American-Statesman. Thank you so much.
PLOHETSKI: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.