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Some victims' families say Texas police didn't do enough to save their children

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The most basic fact of the mass shooting in Texas is the timeline - what happened, for how long and in what order. Days later, we do not have a definite timeline. And Texas authorities have given contradictory accounts. There's no consistent explanation for why the attacker remained in the school for up to an hour. Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro wants the FBI to step in here.

JOAQUIN CASTRO: The families most of all, but really the American people deserve an accurate accounting of what happened and an accurate accounting of the law enforcement response.

FADEL: NPR's Ashley Lopez is in Uvalde, and she spoke with us this morning.

ASHLEY LOPEZ, BYLINE: So law enforcement officials, primarily the Texas Department of Public Safety, held a press conference yesterday. It was kind of a strange event. They didn't take many questions, and the few they did take were largely unanswered. It's worth noting that officials didn't make time to address Spanish-language media, even though three-fourths of Uvalde residents are Latino. One of the few things we did learn is that there was no school resource officer when the gunman entered the school. Apparently, the shooter walked in through an unlocked door, and that has surprised the public and politicians. And it's a surprise because just the day before, authorities publicly stated that a school resource officer engaged with the shooter as he was trying to enter.

FADEL: So contradictions there. Authorities say it took nearly an hour to stop and kill the shooter. Do we know why - why it took so long?

LOPEZ: No, we don't. Victor Escalon with the Texas Department of Public Safety said they still can't pin down exactly what took so long. By the time the gunman started shooting and when he was killed by the Border Patrol officer, there were a lot of law enforcement officers at the scene, according to Escalon. They are still interviewing everyone who was there and reviewing footage. And until that's done, it's unclear whether that took longer than it should have. And Escalon points out that there's, like, many factors at play here.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

VICTOR ESCALON: Could anybody have gone there sooner? You got to understand - small town. You have people from Eagle Pass, from Del Rio, Laredo, San Antonio responding to a small community.

FADEL: Now, Ashley, though, we've seen these videos circulating of distressed parents begging police to go inside, trying to get inside themselves. What are family members who were outside that school during the shooting - what are they saying?

LOPEZ: Some families in the past few days have started to criticize the police for taking so much time to go in and take down that shooter. As you mentioned, there were parents standing outside the school during the shooting. Many of them were pleading with officers to intervene. Families have said they're angry and confused about what happened.

FADEL: And I think they're not alone in that confusion. Tell us about the response from elected officials.

LOPEZ: That's right. Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro, who represents nearby San Antonio, wrote a letter to the FBI asking them to take over the investigation. He told NPR that an accurate account of what happened is essential.

CASTRO: Well, after hearing the conflicting accounts by state authorities, my confidence is shaken, I think, just like a lot of Americans who have watched those press conferences. And I think many folks would feel more comfortable if the FBI took the lead in this investigation.

LOPEZ: Castro also says in his letter that he's concerned that there's still no full accounting of the time between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on the day of the shooting.

FADEL: NPR's Ashley Lopez, thank you so much for your reporting, Ashley.

LOPEZ: Yeah. Thank you, Leila. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.