“There were at least 40 officers armed to the teeth but they didn’t do anything until it was too late,” Jacinto Cazares, father of 10-year-old Jacklyn Cazares, who was killed in the incident, told ABC. massacre at Robb Elementary School in the Texas town.

Daniel Myers, a 72-year-old pastor, had arrived with his wife Matilda outside the school about 30 minutes after the shooter entered the school.

He described to AFP how the police waited in the absence of a specialized unit to attack, and how the parents attending the scene were “desperate”.

“They were ready to go back (to the establishment). One of the relatives said: I was military, just give me a gun, I will go. I will not hesitate. I will go. “

Law enforcement said on Wednesday that they had tried to prevent Salvador Ramos, the 18-year-old shooter, from entering the school.

But, after an exchange of gunfire, he managed to barricade himself in a classroom. This is where he killed 19 children, but also two teachers.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw told CNN that Salvador Ramos remained inside the school for about 40 minutes before police managed to shoot him.

Border police chief Raul Ortiz, whose officers were on site, assured him that the latter “did not hesitate”.

“They came up with a plan. They walked into the classroom and they worked it out as quickly as they could,” he also told CNN.

In addition to the 21 killed, 17 people were injured, including three police officers.

In the absence of a medical examiner, Eulalio Diaz, a local official, was tasked with identifying the bodies until late at night, he told the daily El Paso Times.

“Some of the children were in a bad state,” said the chosen one.

Parents awaiting news of their children provided DNA samples to speed up the identification process.

Eulalio Diaz expects that the bodies can be buried in the next 48 hours, the time to carry out the autopsies.

“It’s going to be tough when I have to write 21 death certificates,” he said.

The tragedy stunned Uvalde, a town of 16,000 inhabitants halfway between San Antonio and the Mexican border, and predominantly Hispanic, with pain.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott revealed the murderer shot his 66-year-old grandmother in the face before going to Robb Elementary School.

The killer had previously announced on Facebook his intention to attack his grandmother who, although seriously injured, managed to alert the police.

He then posted a new message to say he did. Then, at least 15 minutes before the massacre, a third to let it be known that his next target was an elementary school.

He went there equipped with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, a weapon fatally known to have been used in other massacres in the United States, such as the one in a high school in Parkland, Florida, which left 18 dead.

Along the way, Salvador Ramos had a car accident, and it was there that the police tried to arrest him, in vain.

– Workouts –

One of the school’s teachers, present in the establishment at the time of the tragedy, told ABC that her students were watching a Disney film to celebrate the upcoming end of the school year, when shots rang out .

His students then practiced their years of training for such a situation, gathering silently under their table. These trainings have become the norm in schools in the United States, where deadly shootings are repeated tirelessly from year to year.

“They knew it was not a drill. We had to be quiet, or else we were going to alert him to our presence,” said the teacher, who wished to remain anonymous.

The shooter’s mother, Adriana Reyes, told the same channel that her son was not “a monster”, but that he could sometimes “be aggressive”.

“I had an uneasy feeling sometimes,” she said, wondering what was on his mind.

– “No explanation” –

Hundreds of people gathered on Wednesday evening in the stands of a theater to mourn the victims of the massacre.

“I am heartbroken,” sobbed Ryan Ramirez, who lost his 10-year-old daughter Alithia in the shooting. By his side, his wife Jessica was crying softly, their other daughter in her arms.

Esmeralda Bravo, for her part, held a photo of Nevaeh, her late granddaughter. “There is no explanation,” she said. “She was a good little girl, very shy and very pretty. (…) Having the support of the community means a lot to me, but I would prefer my little girl to be here by my side”.

In the United States, school shootings are a recurring scourge that successive governments have so far been powerless to stem.

The debate on gun regulation in the country is almost on hold, given the lack of hope that Congress will pass an ambitious national law on the issue.