13 times Texas police have changed their story of what happened during the school shooting that left 19 children dead

Director and Colonel of the Texas Department of Public Safety Steven C. McCraw listens with other law enforcement officials during a press conference outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 27, 2022.
Director and Colonel of the Texas Department of Public Safety Steven C. McCraw listens with other law enforcement officials during a press conference outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 27, 2022.CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images
  • Texas officials have changed their statements about the mass shooting at Robb Elementary on Thursday at least 13 times.

  • Police initially claimed a school cop confronted the shooter, but walked that back days later.

  • Now authorities say 19 police were ready to confront the suspect but were called off by a commander on scene.

Texas officials on Friday again made crucial changes to their timeline of the shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, adding to the lack of clarity around how the massacre took place and how police responded to the attack.

From the initial reports of the shooting on Tuesday, May 24, to the most recent news briefing by Director of Texas Department of Public Safety Steven McCraw on Friday, May 27, police have changed the narrative of how law enforcement reacted to a gunman's rampage in which he killed 19 children and two teachers.

Facing withering criticism from parents, McCraw said that a police commander in charge of the scene — Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo — refused to send police in to stop the shooting, calling the decision "wrong."

Here are the more than a dozen changes to details that law enforcement officials have offered since the shooting:

Uvalde Police initially said the gunman was in custody

In one of the first statements about the shooting, the Uvalde Police Department said on Facebook that the gunman was in police custody.

"Update @ 1:06 Shooter is in Police Custody," the department said in a Facebook post on May 24.

The department later revealed that a US Border Patrol tactical team fatally shot the gunman inside Robb Elementary.

Nobody actually confronted the gunman before he went in

At a press conference on Wednesday, May 25, the director of Texas Department of Public Safety Steve McCraw said that "a brave resource officer" engaged with the gunman.

"At that time, gunfire was not exchanged, but the subject was able to make it into the school," McCraw said.

However, by Thursday, May 26, DPS Regional Director for South Texas Victor Escalon said this was incorrect.

"There was not an officer readily available and armed," Escalon said at a press conference.

And on May 27, McCraw added that the resource officer was not even on school grounds at the time of the shooting.

"There was discussion early on that an ISD ... had confronted the suspect. That did not happen. It was certainly stated in preliminary interviews, but often these preliminary interviews ... witnesses get it wrong," McCraw said.

"The bottom line is that officer was not on scene, not on campus, but had heard the 911 call about the man with a gun, drove immediately to the area, sped to what he thought was the man with the gun, to the back of the school, to what turned out to be a teacher and not the suspect," McCraw continued.

McCraw added that the school police officer actually drove past the gunman, who was hiding behind a car.

How quickly the gunman entered the school

Police have been consistent in the details of the gunman's attack on his grandmother before the shooting and his crash near a funeral home across the street from the school at 11:28 a.m. on May 24.

But police initially said the gunman was confronted before going into the school. On May 26, Escalon said that the gunman was firing outside the school and entered the school at 11:40 a.m., leaving a 12-minute window that was unexplained.

But on May 27, McCraw said that the shooter actually entered the school at 11:33 a.m., three minutes after a teacher called 911 to report the crash and a gunman on school grounds.

The gunman did not enter through a door propped open by a teacher

On May 27, McCraw had claimed that the shooter entered the elementary school via a door that was left propped open by a teacher and that they had reviewed video footage of the teacher leaving the door propped.

But by Tuesday, May 31, the teacher's lawyer pushed back, saying the teacher actually pulled the door closed but it didn't lock.

In a statement confirmed to Insider on May 31, DPS Chief of Media and Communications Travis Considine reversed course again, acknowledging that the teacher had closed the propped door when she realized a shooter was on campus, but that the door did not lock.

It's unclear why the police initially cited video evidence alleging the teacher had left the door propped open.

Police arrived on scene quickly but backed off for more than an hour

At the press conference a day after the shooting, McCraw said "Bottom line, law enforcement was there, they did engage immediately, they did contain him in a classroom. They put a tactical stack together, in a very orderly way, and breached and assaulted the individual."

Lt Chris Olivarez on May 25 in an interview with NBC's "Today" show emphasized the speed of the police reaction. He said that police responded "within a moment's notice."

He also said that officers "without hesitation tried to make entry into that school," but were stopped by the gunman firing at them.

But by May 26, police said that the gunman had not been killed by a US Border Patrol agent until 12:40, raising questions of what happened in the roughly hour between the shooting beginning and the gunman being shot to death.

According to new information from McCraw on May 27, three local police officers got to the school at 11:35, just two minutes after the gunman initially entered the building and opened fire. Two of the cops were grazed by bullets as they entered the school, he added.

In this latest description, McCraw said police exchanged gunfire with the suspect until 11:44 a.m. By 11:51 a.m. a police sergeant and federal agent arrived and as of 12:03, there were 19 police officers in the hallway outside the classroom where the gunman was holed up.

Why didn't cops stop the Texas school shooter?

On May 25, Olivarez said, police began breaking windows and evacuating people as the gunman was barricaded in the school until more heavily-armed officers arrived and killed the gunman.

The first narrative did not make clear how long this took. The hour-long discrepancy was revealed on May 26.

When asked that Thursday why officers didn't take down the shooter as he was in the classroom with children, Asked at the press conference why authorities didn't engage sooner, Escalon said: "That's a tough question."

He cited the need to evacuate people as a possible reason, and added in the officers' defense that there was "a lot going on" and that it was "a complex situation."

But parents began sharing that cops outside the school had refused to go in to stop the shooter and restrained parents who tried to go in themselves.

"Nothing is adding up," Jay Martin, a local man, told The Wall Street Journal. "People are just really frustrated because no one is coming out and telling us the real truth of what went down."

One video from outside the school shows police holding back desperate parents who wanted to go into the school and rescue their kids.

One woman, Gladys Castillon, told the Journal that she had been begging police to be more proactive before the arrival of the tactical unit. Officers temporarily handcuffed a mom trying to get into the school, the Journal reported.

The mom ended up jumping a fence and running into the school, pulling her two children to safety herself, according to the Journal.

By May 27, police had new details about the delay: McCraw pointed the blame at the school police chief, Arredondo, who he said ordered police not to engage the suspect because he thought the suspect was "barricaded" and "there were no more children at risk."

McCraw — who wasn't at the scene at the time of the shooting and didn't command the officers at the time — added: "Obviously, based upon the information we have, there were children in that classroom that were at risk and it was, in fact, still an active shooter situation."

He noted that"of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision. There is no excuse for that."

"When there's an active shooter, the rules change," McCraw said. "You don't have time."

The Uvalde school district did not respond to Insider's request for comment.

In fact, McCraw revealed that students inside the classrooms where the gunman was firing called 911 nearly a dozen times over the course of the shooting. One girl begged 911 twice to "send police now" after the gunman killed her teacher and some of her classmates.

According to the last timeline provided by McCraw on May 27, police opened the locked door to the classroom using a key and shot and killed the gunman at 12:50 p.m. — 10 minutes later than initially reported.

Questions still remain about the police response

Police have given conflicting reports on the timeline of the shooting, though law enforcement officials have noted that it is not unusual for a more complete narrative to form as police investigate.

Still, Texas authorities' news briefings have often left reporters and the public with more questions than answers. Even as of May 27, it was unclear if 911 dispatchers alerted police at the scene to the children still trapped inside with the shooter and police did not say what ultimately convinced the tactical team to breach the classroom and shoot the gunman.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on May 27 reacted to the new information that was revealed earlier in the day about the police response to the mass shooting, saying, "I was misled."

"I am livid about what happened," said Abbott, who days earlier praised the response by law enforcement.

"As everybody has learned, the information that I was given turned out in part to be inaccurate," Abbott said. "And I am absolutely livid about that."

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