Nineteen children and two teachers died Tuesday at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas this week "because the police did not go inside the room" where they were trapped with an 18-year-old shooter armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, Rep. Pete Sessions told Newsmax Saturday.
"A tragedy happened because of the apparent delay of what they were doing," the Texas Republican said on Newsmax's "America Right Now." "We lost all those children because the police did not go inside the room."
He added that it's still premature to judge fully the officers' actions and that it's "hard to know what they knew when they knew it, but I can't imagine that they could not have heard weapons being used."
His comments come after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott this week said he is "livid" over being "misled" about the police response to the emergency after 18-year-old killer Salvador Ramos entered the school and slaughtered 19 children and two teachers and injured several other children and adults before a Border Patrol agent shot and killed him.
Reports indicate that at least 20 officers waited in a hallway for almost an hour before entering the classroom where Ramos was with the children and teachers. At least two children called 911 from two connecting classrooms to beg that police be sent, according to Colonel Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
However, the chief of the school district's police department in Uvalde thought that Ramos was barricaded and children were no longer at risk, he said.
Sessions said there are also more details coming out about Ramos, "All these things are going to have to be added together to figure out, but meanwhile, as President Joe Biden is planning to visit the community on Sunday, he thinks that it's important that the president listen, rather than try to offer solutions.
"I think Texans have answers to our problems and the issues that we face," Sessions said. "Don't bring in your answer, Mr. President, from somewhere else and try and overlay what we think we need to be responsible for. We need to fix our problems, but we don't need some outsider to come in and do it for us. We need to listen to the parents, we need to listen to law enforcement, and we need to listen to school officials. We need to make sure to fix this problem."
Meanwhile, it's been reported that Ramos had 60 magazines of ammunition in his possession and had legally purchased two semi-automatic rifles just days after his 18th birthday, and Sessions said there is still a need to determine the full facts in the case.
"We know this was a person that did not have money but saved money to this effort," Sessions said. "I wonder, was he online with a group of people that were encouraging this? Did he go through a training of some matter? Was there a person, and we've heard that there was, who perhaps was aware something could have happened. Did they tip off the police? So it's a series of things that we could have, should have known. But obviously if you have a large caliber rifle and ammunition, that is something we should have figured out. "
The shootings have also renewed calls among House and Senate Democrats for new gun control legislation. Sessions pointed out that there are many places in the country that have very strict gun laws, but they have not stopped criminals.
"It does not stop them in Chicago every weekend," he said. "What we need to do is look at the person. These are young people and you were from 16 to 24 years old. They have patterns of behavior about them. And that is where the discussion about this, what is called red flags, does come into play."
There are lawmakers who are focused on their political agenda, which "extends beyond what is commonsense but to taking freedoms away from people in Texas," said Sessions.
"We understand freedom," he said. "We understand constitutional privileges, but we also understand the right to keep our own home and our own safety right up, and take care of ourselves, and lots of places in Texas … this is going to have to be a joint conversation about how do we reside together and live, not only with guns but to spot the problem. It is in our schools. It is in our young, and we've got to zero in on that"
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