Texas teacher who locked door says she thought it was locked

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Robb Elementary School teacher who initially opened the exterior door that Uvalde’s shooter used to enter the building believed she had locked it, according to her interview with NewsNation.

The woman – who is not identified for her safety – spoke to the media last Thursday, two days after the fatal shooting that killed 19 children and 2 teachers.

The employee said she was waiting for the delivery of supplies for a school dance when she saw the shooter run over her truck.

“[Someone] shouted, “He has a gun,” she said. “I ran to my building. I still had the stone in the door. So I opened the door, kicked the rock, then locked [the door].”

The woman said she called 911 while hiding under a counter, two chairs pulled up in front of her.

“I was scared,” she said. “I said to the operator, ‘Where are the cops? Where are the cops? because I couldn’t hear the sirens. I could just hear him shooting.

“I told him, ‘There are babies running around,'” she added. “You could hear the children screaming and running.”

The Texas Department of Public Safety said Tuesday the door was closed but not locked.

Police originally said the teacher left the door unlocked, just one of a series of details that were ironed out by investigators in the week after the tragedy.

This changing narrative prompted the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas (CLEAT), which represents police officers, to endorse an independent investigation by the US Department of Justice.

“When you’re handling a crisis, if you have to get a message across quickly and accurately, that’s a lot of pressure,” said UT Austin communications professor John Daly.

The professor said he thought there were too many official voices spreading information early on in Uvalde.

“The DPS was talking, the local police were talking, the governor was talking, the senators were talking,” Daly told KXAN.

Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo has come under fire after state police officials say it took law enforcement 40 minutes to an hour to enter a locked classroom and kill the 18-year-old shooter.

Speaking in general terms, Renita Coleman, a journalism professor at UT Austin, said it was important for those providing key information in any investigation to resist the natural human reaction to hiding things that might look bad or their organization.

“You just say, ‘I made a mistake,’ if that’s what you did, or you just say, ‘I was scared,'” Coleman said.

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