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After Uvalde Shooting, Congressman Calls for Inquiry into Police Response

People logo People 5/27/2022 Steve Helling

ALLISON DINNER/AFP via Getty © Provided by People ALLISON DINNER/AFP via Getty

As authorities continue to release shifting timelines of Tuesday's mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, one lawmaker has sent a letter to the FBI, demanding an investigation into the police response.

Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from an adjacent district, wrote a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray citing conflicting reports given by police, and asking that the FBI "use its maximum authority to thoroughly examine the timeline of events and the law enforcement response."

In his letter, Castro demanded answers about the various accounts that law enforcement agencies have given.

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"The people of Uvalde, of Texas, and of the nation deserve an accurate account of what transpired," he wrote. "However, state officials have provided conflicting accounts that are at odds with those provided by witnesses, including whether the school security officer and the gunman exchanged fire outside the school, and how long law enforcement officers were in adjoining classrooms while the gunman barricaded himself in a classroom with students and teachers."

Elaine Aradillas © Provided by People Elaine Aradillas

While the timeline of the attack is still in flux, most law enforcement accounts agree that the shooter was in a classroom with the victims for more than 40 minutes. At a Friday press conference, Texas Department of Public Safety executive director Steven McCraw said it was the "wrong decision, period" for responding officers not to immediately enter the classroom the shooter was in. He said officers treated the call as one for a barricaded suspect and believed students inside were safe.

RELATED: Texas School Shooting Survivor, 9, Recalls Terrifying Day at Robb Elementary: 'I Couldn't Sleep Last Night'


Video: Visitations begin for Uvalde shooting victims (CBS Dallas)

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On Thursday morning, the Associated Press reported that many parents at the scene urged police to follow the shooter into the school. When the police remained outside, at least one parent tried to enter the school himself, only to be pinned to the ground by an officer. A video of the altercation was posted on YouTube on Wednesday.

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Several witnesses have talked to PEOPLE about the attack and police reponse.

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"There was a lot of chaos," says Ernest "Chip" King, a Uvalde firefighter who estimated that the gunfire went on for about 40 minutes. "Fathers smashed windows, and physically pulled their kids out of classrooms."

Some relatives at the scene believe that police hesitation cost lives.

RELATED: Texas School Shooting: What We Know About the Victims

"Everyone was just showing up and they weren't doing anything," says Berlinda Arreola, 49, whose granddaughter Amerie Jo Garza was killed in the attack. "The parents were being all crazy, like 'Why aren't you all doing anything? Why aren't you going in?' But they were like, 'until he opens gunfire, we can't do anything. We're holding on so that he doesn't open gunfire.'"

But Arreola tells PEOPLE that it was too late. "We didn't know that he had already opened gunfire in there. We didn't even know that he had already shot all the kids. It was already done."

The FBI has not publicly responded to Rep. Castro's letter.

The school district in Uvalde has opened an official account with First State Bank of Uvalde to support Robb Elementary families affected by the tragedy. People can send checks through the mail (payable to the "Robb School Memorial Fund") or donate money through Zelle to robbschoolmemorialfund@gmail.comPeople can also donate by calling 830-356-2273.

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