This story is part of a KXAN series of reports called “Stop Mass Shootings,” providing context and exploring solutions surrounding gun violence in the wake of the deadly Uvalde school shooting. We want our reports to be a resource for Texans, as well as for lawmakers who are convening a month after the events in Uvalde to discuss how the state should move forward. Explore all “Stop Mass Shootings” stories by clicking here.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Robb Elementary School teacher who initially propped open the exterior door the Uvalde gunman used to enter the building thought she had locked it, according to her interview with NewsNation.
The woman — who is not being identified for her safety — spoke with the news outlet last Thursday, two days after the deadly shooting that killed 19 children and 2 teachers.
The employee said she was awaiting the delivery of supplies for a school dance when she saw the shooter crash his truck.
“[Someone] yelled, ‘He’s got a gun,” she said. “I ran back into my building. I still had the rock in the door. So, I opened the door, kicked the rock, and then locked [the door].”
The woman said she called 911 as she hid beneath a counter, two chairs pulled in front of her.
“I was scared,” she said. “I told the operator, ‘Where are the cops? Where are the cops?’ because I couldn’t hear sirens. I could just hear him shooting.”
“I told her, ‘There are babies running everywhere,'” she added. “You could hear the kids screaming and running.”
The Texas Department of Public Safety said Tuesday the door was closed but not locked.
Originally, police said the teacher had left the door open, just one in a string of details that have been corrected by investigators in the week since the tragedy.
That changing narrative prompted the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas (CLEAT), which represents police officers, to endorse an independent investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.
“When you’re managing a crisis, if you’ve got to get a message out quickly and accurately, that’s a lot of pressure,” said UT Austin communication professor John Daly.
The professor said he believed there were too many official voices disseminating information early on in Uvalde.
“DPS was talking, local police were talking, the governor was talking, senators were talking,” Daly told KXAN.
Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo has been the subject of criticism after state police officials said it took 40 minutes to an hour for law enforcement to enter a locked classroom and kill the 18-year-old gunman.
Speaking in general terms, UT Austin journalism professor Renita Coleman said it’s important for those delivering key information in any investigation to resist the natural human reaction to hide things that could make them, or their organization look bad.
“You just say, ‘I made a mistake,’ if that’s what you did, or you just say, ‘I was scared,’ Coleman said. “People are going to understand that more.”