White House Waiting for More Details, Won't 'Prejudge' Police Response at Uvalde Shooting

White House Waiting for More Details, Won't 'Prejudge' Police Response at Uvalde Shooting
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds her first news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington on May 16, 2022. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Nick Ciolino

The White House did not directly answer on May 26 whether it thinks there should be an investigation into the police response to the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Local police have been scrutinized amid reports that officers did not rush to stop the massacre at Robb Elementary School that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

“The president—we've been watching the reporting on this,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters during the May 26 press briefing. “The president has the utmost respect, as you all know, for the men and women of law enforcement. Just days ago, he honored the memory of the former police officer, Aaron Salter, in Buffalo, who was killed bravely while trying to stop the shooter at the supermarket.

“I know that right now authorities are working to piece together more details of what happened in Uvalde, so we won't prejudge the results from here at this time," she said.

Jean-Pierre added that it’s always good to look back to try to find lessons learned from a tragedy, “including law enforcement response.”

Police originally said that the shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, “encountered” a school district security officer outside the school, and then fired on and injured two arriving Uvalde police officers before entering the school at about 11 a.m. on May 24, where he charged into a classroom and began killing.

But in a news conference May 26, Victor Escalon from the Texas Department of Public Safety said the report about Ramos being confronted by a school police officer was inaccurate.

"He walked in unobstructed, initially," Escalon said.

The massacre lasted upwards of 40 minutes before Ramos was shot and killed by a Border Patrol team that entered the school, officers later told reporters.

Ramos “barricaded himself by locking the door and just started shooting children and teachers that were inside that classroom,” Lt. Christopher Olivarez of the Department of Public Safety told CNN. “It just shows you the complete evil of the shooter.”

All those killed were in the same classroom, Olivarez said.

Witnesses cited by the Associated Press said they were shouting at police officers outside the building telling them to help the people in the school. And a Facebook video recorded by a witness and verified by the Washington Post shows a group of adults yelling at officers just before noon to let them inside if the police refused to enter the school.

Uvalde, Texas, has a total population of about 16,000 people and sits about 75 miles from the Mexican border. Jean-Pierre told reporters that President Joe Biden plans to visit the town on May 29 to “grieve with the community” and call on Congress to pass “common sense” gun laws.

Biden has expressed support for universal background checks and raising the minimum age required to buy a firearm.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.