The Frustrations Of The Broken-Hearted
We have too many laws and not enough order
The conversation about the Uvalde shooting has now moved in two directions — one toward the politics, focused on the annual National Rifle Association gathering in Houston and the divergent reactions of Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn among other developments; the other toward frustration around the actual story of the Uvalde developments that led to the deaths of so many children and what appears to be a slow response from law enforcement.
There is less focus, of course, on the actual process of grieving — because that is the hardest aspect of this, and the area where we have so little to offer as a culture.
Frustrated onlookers urged police officers to charge into the Texas elementary school where a gunman’s rampage killed 19 children and two teachers, witnesses said Wednesday, as investigators worked to track the massacre that lasted upwards of 40 minutes and ended when the 18-year-old shooter was killed by a Border Patrol team.
“Go in there! Go in there!” nearby women shouted at the officers soon after the attack began, said Juan Carranza, 24, who saw the scene from outside his house, across the street from Robb Elementary School in the close-knit town of Uvalde. Carranza said the officers did not go in.
Javier Cazares, whose fourth grade daughter, Jacklyn Cazares, was killed in the attack, said he raced to the school when he heard about the shooting, arriving while police were still gathered outside the building.
Upset that police were not moving in, he raised the idea of charging into the school with several other bystanders.
“Let’s just rush in because the cops aren’t doing anything like they are supposed to,” he said. “More could have been done.”
“They were unprepared,” he added…
Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told reporters that 40 minutes to an hour elapsed from when Ramos opened fire on the school security officer to when the tactical team shot him, though a department spokesman said later that they could not give a solid estimate of how long the gunman was in the school or when he was killed.
Department of Public Safety officials previously said an armed school officer confronted Ramos as he arrived at the school. Mr. Escalon said Thursday that information was incorrect and no one encountered Ramos as he arrived at the school. “There was not an officer readily available and armed,” Mr. Escalon said.
Ramos shot his grandmother Tuesday morning and drove her truck to Robb Elementary School, crashing the vehicle into a nearby ditch at 11:28 a.m., according to the timeline laid out by Mr. Escalon. He then began shooting at people at a funeral home across the street, prompting a 911 call reporting a gunman at the school at 11:30. Ramos climbed a chain-link fence about 8 feet high onto school grounds and began firing before walking inside, unimpeded, at 11:40. The first police arrived on the scene at 11:44 and exchanged gunfire with Ramos, who locked himself in a fourth-grade classroom. There, he killed the students and teachers.
A Border Patrol tactical team went into the school an hour later, around 12:40 p.m., and was able to get into the classroom and kill Ramos, Mr. Escalon said.
“The active shooter situation, you want to stop the killing, you want to preserve life, but also one thing that – of course, the American people need to understand — that officers are making entry into this building. They do not know where the gunman is. They are hearing gunshots.
“They are receiving gunshots. At that point, if they proceeded any further not knowing where the suspect was at, they could’ve been shot, they could’ve been killed, and that gunman would have had an opportunity to kill other people inside that school.”
We underestimate how demoralizing these shootings are. They hurt our faith in America (why can’t we handle this?) and the future (what will it be like if this continues?). And there’s the new part of the story that is disturbing, this sense—we’ve had it before—that the police reliably come to the scene but they’ve got some kind of process or procedure that keeps them from fighting their way to the actual site of the shooting. Parents were massing at the school in Uvalde and screaming, “Go in, go in!” They themselves would have, and were possibly stopped. This aspect of the story is not yet clear but you can’t see the emerging videos and not think something went very wrong.
I love cops because I love John Wayne. (Joan Didion: “John Wayne was supposed to give the orders. ‘Let’s ride,’ he said . . . ’ Forward ho.’ ” ) If they’re not John Wayne—commonsensical, gutsy, quick, able to size up the situation—I don’t think I love them. I don’t think anyone else does, either.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial