A police officer armed with a rifle hesitated when given the opportunity to shoot the Uvalde school sniper, it was reported.
The unidentified city official, who was carrying an AR-15-type gun, apparently stopped because he feared hitting children, a sheriff’s deputy told The New York Times.
Another officer from a different department — the Uvalde School District Police Force — arrived early but passed the gunman, not seeing him in the school parking lot, officials said.
Salvador Ramos, 18, killed 21 people, including 19 children, at Robb Elementary School in Texas on May 24. It is not believed that he left a manifesto or a note explaining your actions.
The police did not confront him for more than an hour, even as distressed parents urged them to enter the school.
Deputy Ricardo Rios said the chance to shoot Ramos passed “very quickly”, perhaps in a matter of seconds.
Any attempt to eliminate the sniper on the move would have been difficult, he added. If the officer had opened fire and hit a passerby – especially a child – he could have faced a criminal investigation.
Deputy Rios told the newspaper: “My understanding, after talking to several police officers who were there, was that the shooter attacked two police officers from the city of Uvalde when they arrived there, outside the building.”
The officers, including the one with a rifle, hid behind a patrol car.
Reporting on a conversation, Chief Delegate Rios said: “I asked him, ‘Why didn’t you shoot? Why didn’t you get involved? And that’s when he told me about the background.
“According to the police, they didn’t get involved because in the background there were children playing and they were afraid to hit the children.
“I’m not criticizing him or anything,” Rios added. “I understand.”
The Uvalde Police Department, whose officer reportedly had the shooter in his sights, did not respond to a request for comment, the New York Times said.
Rios said he shared his information with a special Texas House committee investigating the school shooting.
Representative Dustin Burrows, who chairs the committee, defended the decision to interview witnesses privately and not reveal his findings so far.
“One person’s truth may be different from another person’s truth,” he said.
A teacher who survived the school shooting said he will never forgive the police for taking more than an hour to get into your classroom after the sniper opened fire for the first time.
Arnulfo Reyes, a 3rd and 4th grade teacher who taught in room 111, was shot in the lung and back by Ramos.