The story of what happened the day of the Uvalde shooting keeps changing
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
The story of what happened in Uvalde, Texas, leading up to and during a mass shooting that killed 19 children and two adults, well, it's a story that keeps on changing. In the last couple of days, there have been new developments, and prior law enforcement statements are being walked back. NPR's Laura Benshoff is in Uvalde and brings us the latest. Hi, Laura.
LAURA BENSHOFF, BYLINE: Hi, Ailsa.
CHANG: So I want to talk first about how this gunman got into the school. Like, the original story was that a teacher had left a back door open, right? What do we know now about that?
BENSHOFF: Right. At a press conference last Friday, the Texas Department of Public Safety had said the gunman entered Robb Elementary through a door that this teacher had left something in to keep it from locking behind her. Now they're saying that's not true. DPS confirmed to NPR that video footage showed the teacher running back inside and closing the door. She's hired an attorney named Don Flanery to speak on her behalf, and here's how he relays her version of what happened after she saw the gunman crash his car near the school.
DON FLANARY: And then she looks over and sees him throw a backpack over the fence and then sees him with the AR-15 slung over his shoulder, sees him hop the fence and start running towards her. So she immediately ran back inside, kicked the rock out and slammed the door.
BENSHOFF: So state officials confirm that. And now they're saying that the door did not lock as it was supposed to behind her.
CHANG: Wow. Very different story - OK. So can you tell us anything more about this teacher? I know her name hasn't been released, but what else do we know about her experience that day?
BENSHOFF: You know, Flanary shared that she's also a victim, that she hid, terrified, in a classroom across the hall from where the gunman had shot and killed so many people and that she was there to hear it all. So she was there, and she had family members in the school. Her grandson attended Robb Elementary School. And so she was fearful for his safety as well the whole time. And Flanary wanted to share that, you know, getting kind of wrongly blamed, just at first, for letting the gunman in just made things worse for her.
FLANARY: She was devastated because, in addition to everything she's going through, even the suggestion that - of something that's false - it's insult to injury, you know?
CHANG: Yeah, I imagine so. Well, you know, Laura, all of this gets at the lasting harm these changing statements from law enforcement can cause. And, I mean, state officials originally praised the local law enforcement response, but then days later started blaming the local school police for mishandling it. And now I understand that they have accused the chief of that police force of not cooperating.
BENSHOFF: Right. There's a bit of back and forth happening right now. So the Texas Department of Public Safety shared a statement with NPR saying all the local law enforcement is cooperating with their investigation, except, they say, the school district police chief, Pete Arredondo. They say he hasn't responded to a request for a second interview for their investigation. You know, this is after the DPS director, Steven McCraw, said last week that Arredondo made the wrong decision not to enter the classroom when the gunman was there. So CNN confronted the chief just this morning. And he said then that they've been in touch.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PETE ARREDONDO: We've been in contact with DPS every day, just so you all know.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They say you're not.
ARREDONDO: Every day.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They say that you're not cooperating.
ARREDONDO: I've been on the phone with them every day.
BENSHOFF: So this investigation is ongoing. And, you know, at the same time, the funerals are still happening here.
CHANG: That is NPR's Laura Benshoff in Uvalde. Thank you so much, Laura.
BENSHOFF: Thank you.
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