The 18-year-old suspect in the Uvalde massacre emerged from a classroom closet firing as Border Patrol tactical agents entered the room behind a ballistic shield, according to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share preliminary details of the investigation.
The official said an off-duty Border Patrol tactical agent from the agency’s Border Patrol Tactical Unit, or BORTAC, was the first to arrive outside the classroom around 12:15 p.m. Local police and other officers assembled in the hallway told the agent that the shooter was barricaded inside the classroom, which the agent described as “quiet,” according to the official.
The agent saw bullet holes in the classroom door, and police told the agent that the suspect had attempted to shoot at them through the opening. The agent began planning the tactical operation to enter the classroom and additional BORTAC agents arrived 15 minutes or so later, the official said.
The agents did not have a battering ram or breaching tools. A U.S. marshal on the scene provided the agents with a ballistic shield.
“They have not told me they were frustrated,” the official said. “But they told me it was hard to discern who was in charge.”
The first BORTAC agent “basically said, ‘Let’s get this done’ ” and began planning the entry to the classroom, the official said.
“It wasn’t a huge team,” he said. “It was one agent from here, two from there, and they just converged there.”
During that time, Border Patrol agents, police and other law enforcement personnel were evacuating the other classrooms.
The agent said he did not hear shots fired inside the classroom during the period the officers sent for the key to unlock the classroom. Once they had the key, there were able to open the door while standing off to the side, shielded by the outer wall of the classroom. “Within minutes of getting the key, they made their entry,” the official said.
They unlocked the door and went in behind the BORTAC agent holding the shield. Two other BORTAC agents, a Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) agent and at least one sheriff’s deputy followed. Ramos came out of a closet firing at them, and they returned fire, the official said, killing him.
One of the BORTAC agents was grazed on the head and took some shrapnel in the foot, but wounds were minor.
The agents saw children piled up around the room, huddled together, some still alive but many dead, the official said.