A Texas judge has approved the sealing of the autopsies of the Uvalde victims, in an unusual move that has been condemned as a cover-up by the state senator.
Judge Camile Dubose of the 38th District Court on Friday ordered the files to be sealed, at the request of District Attorney Christina Mitchell.
Mitchell argued that publishing the details of how the 19 children and two teachers died could harm any criminal investigation.
Vitally important is whether any of the victims could have been rescued had police stormed the Robb Elementary School classroom earlier on May 24.
The gunman, Salvador Ramos, 19, entered the school at 11:30 a.m. but was not shot until 12:50 p.m. as police deliberated whether the door should be broken into.
Mitchell, arguing that the autopsies are being sealed, noted that an investigation into law enforcement’s response was continuing.
Salvador Ramos, 19 (left), opened fire at Robb Elementary on May 24, killing 19 children and two teachers. On Friday, Judge Camile Dubose (right) approved the sealing of the victims’ autopsies
“The Texas Rangers are currently investigating possible crimes committed by individuals responsible for the health and well-being of the Robb Elementary School victims,” Mitchell wrote.
“In the event that criminal charges are filed, the 38” prosecutor will be responsible for prosecuting such charges.
“The nature, number and manner in which injuries were inflicted in this case include information vital to the investigation, arrest and possible prosecution of those who may be criminally responsible.”
Mitchell said those who could be dragged into any prosecutions would be given excessive information if the autopsies were released.
“Releasing the details in the autopsy records at this time would alert potential suspects to information law enforcement agencies should retain until the investigation and potential questioning of such suspects is complete,” she wrote.
Roland Gutierrez, a senator whose district includes Uvalde, said the decision to seal the autopsies was even more of a hindrance.
Families of the victims are outraged by the authorities’ lack of transparency and the many changes to the official story.
“The relatives tried to access these autopsies but were unable to do so,” Gutierrez said.
“People will decide in history whether this was a cover-up. Whether law enforcement covered up their actions. Whether the governor was covering up his agency’s failures.
“But the facts are very clear.
“The prosecutor told those families that the autopsies wouldn’t be ready for another year.
“Then we were told it would be the end of this year.
“Then we found out they were around the corner.”
Body-camera footage previously showed officers being told to step back as shots were fired in the elementary school
It was only after Border Patrol agents finally broke into the classroom around 1pm that DPS agents began escorting the children outside and tending their wounds.
Gutierrez said sealing the records was a violation of the Open Records Act.
Mitchell, in her request to seal the documents, argued, “Open records decisions have consistently allowed records to be released from disclosure when based on active investigation and the possibility of lawsuit exceptions.”
“If this prosecutor is withholding these documents, those families have a legal right to that information.
“Those records are, frankly, open records, under the Open Records Act.
“But that’s the space we’re in.
“For the past six months, everything has been hidden by this agency and those in power to cover up their failures.”
Last week, distressing 911 calls from the school revealed the fear and panic of the teachers and students as they desperately waited for police to rescue them.
More than 20 emergency calls obtained by The Texas Tribune and ProPublicachronicle the miscommunication.
An initial investigation has since found that state and local law enforcement officers were largely responsible for the mass shooting, as they stood in the elementary school hallways for more than an hour as Ramos continued his massacre.
In one of the 911 calls, 10-year-old Khloie Torres tells the dispatchers, “I’m in class 112. Hurry up, there are a lot of bodies.
‘Please, get help, I don’t want to die. My teacher is dead. Oh my God.’
But it took the officers more than 40 minutes to heed her plea — Ramos didn’t confront them until 70 minutes after his massacre had begun.
The fourth-grader was eventually able to make it out of the school alive, even as her friends around her died from their gunshot wounds.
During her 911 call, Khloie stayed on the line for more than 17 minutes before hanging up — fearing Ramos would get closer and “taunt” her and her fellow students.
And when the police did not respond nearly 30 minutes later, the student called again while hiding in class 112, asking, “Can you ask the police to come to my room?”
Khloie Torres, a 10-year-old Robb Elementary School student, called 911 twice on May 24 to beg police help as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos continued his frenzy.
Khloie’s father, Ruben, a former Marine, described her actions that day as “incredible.” Torres was able to survive the mass shooting. Khloie’s last call to police came in at 12:36 p.m. that day, telling officers again, ‘There’s a school shooting’
An investigation found that state and local police held up for more than an hour as the gunman continued his frenzy
She explained how she was trying to help her fellow students and tried to keep them quiet so as not to warn the shooter—just as her father had taught her.
Ruben, a former Marine, said his daughter’s heroism that day was “incredible,” while criticizing the officer’s botched response.
“There was no control. That guy was in control for the entire 77 minutes. The police did not go in,” he told the Tribune. “That’s your job: go in.”
The calls show that officers said they were unaware that anyone other than the shooter was in the classrooms.
But in others, even Uvalde’s schools, Police Chief Pete Arredondo seemed well aware that there were victims in classrooms 111 and 112.
The Uvalde School District has since fired its police department, with families and local officials calling for Texas Department of Public Safety director Steven McCraw to resign. He insists his department has done nothing wrong.
11:28 a.m.: Gunman crashes truck, gets out of car with AR-15. He is seen by witnesses at a funeral home next to the school who tell 911 they see a man with a gun walking towards the school
11.31: Gunner is now hidden between vehicles in the school parking lot, firing at the building
11.32: School worker arriving in patrol car after hearing 911 call about truck accident drives past gunman
11.33: Shooter enters the school and starts shooting in room 111/room 112. He shoots over 100 shots
11.35: Three police officers enter the same open door as the Uvalde police suspect. They were later followed by another four, making a total of seven officers on the scene. Three first officers went straight to the door and received abrasions from him while the door was closed. They hang back
11.37: Another 16 shots fired in class by the gunman
11.51: Police sergeant and USB agents arrive
12.03: Agents keep on coming. As many as 19 officers in that hallway at that time. At the same time, a girl from class calls 911 and whispers that she’s in room 112
12.10 pm: Same girl calls back and advises ‘there are multiple deaths’
12.13 pm: Same girl calling again
12.16 pm: The same girl calls for help for the fourth time in 13 minutes
12.15 pm: BORTAC (SWAT) Members Arrive With Shields
12.16 pm: Same unidentified girl calls 911 and says there are ‘8-9 students alive’ in class 112
12.19 pm: Another child from class 111 calls. She hangs up when another student tells her to be quiet
12:21 pm: Shooter shoots again
12:26 pm: One of the girls who previously called 911 calls back. She says the shooter just ‘shot the door’
12:43 pm: That girl’s girl is still on the line. She says ‘please send the police now’
12.50 pm: Police finally break through door with janitor’s keys and kill gunman
12:51 pm Cops start taking children out of the room
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