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Questions arise over police delays with gunman inside school

By JAKE BLEIBERG, JIM VERTUNO and ELLIOT SPAGAT

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — The gunman who killed 21 people at a Texas elementary school was in the building for over an hour before he was killed by law enforcement officers, authorities say.

It was 11:28 a.m. when Salvador Ramos’ Ford pickup slammed into a ditch behind the low-slung Texas school and the driver jumped out carrying an AR-15-style rifle.

Twelve minutes after that, authorities say, the 18-year-old Ramos was in the hallways of Robb Elementary School. Soon he entered a fourth-grade classroom. And there, he killed 19 schoolchildren and two teachers in a still-unexplained spasm of violence.

At 12:58 p.m., law enforcement radio chatter said Ramos had been killed and the siege was over.

What happened in those 90 minutes, in a working-class neighborhood near the edge of the little town of Uvalde, has fueled mounting public anger and scrutiny over law enforcement’s response to Tuesday’s rampage.

“They say they rushed in,” said Javier Cazares, whose fourth-grade daughter, Jacklyn Cazares, was killed in the attack, and who raced to the school as the massacre unfolded. “We didn’t see that.”

On Thursday, authorities largely ignored questions about why officers had not been able to stop the shooter sooner, with Victor Escalon, regional director for the Texas Department of Public Safety, telling reporters he had “taken all those questions into consideration” and would offer updates later.

The media briefing, called by Texas safety officials to clarify the timeline of the attack, provided bits of previously unknown information. But by the time it ended, it had added to the troubling questions surrounding the attack, including about the time it took police to reach the scene and confront the gunman, and the apparent failure to lock a school door he entered.

After two days of providing often conflicting information, investigators said that a school district police officer was not inside the school when Ramos arrived, and, contrary to their previous reports, the officer had not confronted Ramos outside the building.

Instead, they sketched out a timeline notable for unexplained delays by law enforcement.

After crashing his truck, Ramos fired on two people coming out of a nearby funeral home, Escalon said. He then entered the school ”unobstructed” through an apparently unlocked door at about 11:40 a.m.

But the first police officers did not arrive on the scene until 12 minutes after the crash and did not enter the school to pursue the shooter until four minutes after that. Inside, they were driven back by gunfire from Ramos and took cover, Escalon said.

The crisis came to an end after a group of Border Patrol tactical officers entered the school roughly an hour later, at 12:45 p.m., said Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson Travis Considine. They engaged in a shootout with the gunman, who was holed up in the fourth-grade classroom. Moments before 1 p.m., he was dead.

Escalon said that during that time, the officers called for backup, negotiators and tactical teams, while evacuating students and teachers.

Ken Trump, president of the consulting firm National School Safety and Security Services, said the length of the timeline raised questions.

“Based on best practices, it’s very difficult to understand why there were any types of delays, particularly when you get into reports of 40 minutes and up of going in to neutralize that shooter,” he said.

Many other details of the case and the response remained murky. The motive for the massacre — the nation’s deadliest school shooting since Newtown, Connecticut, almost a decade ago — remained under investigation, with authorities saying Ramos had no known criminal or mental health history.

During the siege, frustrated onlookers urged police officers to charge into the school, according to witnesses.

“Go in there! Go in there!” women shouted at the officers soon after the attack began, said Juan Carranza, 24, who watched the scene from outside a house across the street.

Carranza said the officers should have entered the school sooner: “There were more of them. There was just one of him.”

Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz did not give a timeline but said repeatedly that the tactical officers from his agency who arrived at the school did not hesitate. He said they moved rapidly to enter the building, lining up in a “stack” behind an agent holding up a shield.

“What we wanted to make sure is to act quickly, act swiftly, and that’s exactly what those agents did,” Ortiz told Fox News.

But a law enforcement official said that once in the building, the agents had trouble breaching the classroom door and had to get a staff member to open the room with a key. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly about the investigation.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Lt. Christopher Olivarez told CNN that investigators were trying to establish whether the classroom was, in fact, locked or barricaded in some way.

Cazares said that when he arrived, he saw two officers outside the school and about five others escorting students out of the building. But 15 or 20 minutes passed before the arrival of officers with shields, equipped to confront the gunman, he said.

As more parents flocked to the school, he and others pressed police to act, Cazares said. He heard about four gunshots before he and the others were ordered back to a parking lot.

“A lot of us were arguing with the police, ‘You all need to go in there. You all need to do your jobs.’ Their response was, ‘We can’t do our jobs because you guys are interfering,’” Cazares said.

As for the armed school officer, he was driving nearby but was not on campus when Ramos crashed his truck, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke of condition of anonymity.

Investigators have concluded that school officer was not positioned between the school and Ramos, leaving him unable to confront the shooter before he entered the building, the law enforcement official said.

Michael Dorn, executive director of Safe Havens International, which works to make schools safer, cautioned that it’s hard to get a clear understanding of the facts soon after a shooting.

“The information we have a couple of weeks after an event is usually quite different than what we get in the first day or two. And even that is usually quite inaccurate,” Dorn said. For catastrophic events, “you’re usually eight to 12 months out before you really have a decent picture.”

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Bleiberg reported from Dallas.

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More on the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas: https://apnews.com/hub/school-shootings

New Iowa law requires radon testing in public school buildings

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The governor has signed a bill into law that requires testing for radon gas in public school buildings.

The legislation is named in honor of Gail Orcutt, a retired teacher from Pleasant Hill who died of radon-inducted lung cancer in 2020. She had lobbied for the bill for a decade. Senator Jackie Smith of Sioux City is among the lawmakers who paid tribute to Orcutt before voting “yes” on the bill.

“This is a bill about the lungs,” Smith says, “but it was pushed by the heart.”

The new law lets school districts use local option sales taxes to install radon mitigation systems. Testing to screen school buildings must be completed by July 1st of 2027. Senator Joe Bolkcom of Iowa City voted for the bill, but raised concerns about that deadline.

“Do you think it makes sense to wait five more years to have a radon test in a building that might have a radon problem and kids being exposed to radon gas for the next five years?” Bolkcom asked.

Senator Craig Johnson of Independence said it’s his understanding many schools have already been tested for radon, but this will spur others to do so. “My wife works in a public school,” Johnson says. “Believe me, I want this to get started as soon as possible myself.”

Officials estimate about 400 Iowans will die of radon-inducted lung cancer this year. Radon is an odorless gas that seeps into homes and buildings through cracks in the foundation and every Iowa county is considered to have high levels of radon in the soil. In addition to testing of existing school buildings, the new law requires radon control systems to be part of any new school construction projects.

“This will save lives,” said Representative Art Staed, a retired teacher from Cedar Rapids. “It’ll save students’ lives and it’ll save teachers’ lives.”

The bill passed with the support of all but two members of the legislature. The governor held a private bill signing ceremony on Tuesday for advocates who’d pressed for passage of the legislation.

Osky’s Roach & Blommers compete at State Tennis

The Girls’ Class 1A State Tennis Tournament begins a two day run Friday (5/27) at the University of Iowa.  Oskaloosa’s Lucy Roach and Presley Blommers are teaming up in doubles and will face a team from Red Oak in the opening round.  I asked Blommers why she and Roach make a good doubles team.

“I think it’s just ’cause we play pretty much all of our sports together, so we connect well on the court.”

The two are teammates on the Indians’ volleyball, basketball and softball teams, as well as tennis.  Roach gives her goal for the tournament.

“Definitely to get to Saturday.  Win two games on Friday and give us a chance on Saturday.”

Also competing in 1A Girls’ State Tennis will be Knoxville’s doubles team of Jadyn Streigle and Olivia Maasdam, Pella’s Emily Blom in singles, along with Tanae Thiravong of Albia.

Historical marker unveiled at Oskaloosa’s Book Vault

Oskaloosa’s tenth and final historical building marker was unveiled Thursday night (5/26) at the Book Vault. That building was once home to the Oskaloosa Savings Bank.  Calvin Bandstra researched the history of the building and says he learned something interesting about Oskaloosa’s history from the late 19th century.

“One of the interesting things that I didn’t know of was the big Jewish community that was in Oskaloosa at the time.  That was so important in establishing all the retail stores here.  And also the synagogue that was here in town that could support them. That’s a part of Oskaloosa that has almost completely disappeared now.”

Historical markers are also in place at the Oskaloosa Fire Station, Mahaska County Courthouse, the Centennial Block, the Frankel Building, the Malcom, Fitch, McGregor Building, the Iowa Building, the Stapp Building, Trolley Place and Iowa Masons Benevolent Society Building.

States divided on gun controls, even as mass shootings rise

By RACHEL LA CORTE and ANDREW DEMILLO

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was quick to react to this week’s carnage at a Texas elementary school, sending a tweet listing the gun control measures the Democratic-controlled state has taken. He finished with: “Your turn Congress.”

But gun control measures are likely going nowhere in Congress, and they also have become increasingly scarce in most states. Aside from several Democratic-controlled states, the majority have taken no action on gun control in recent years or have moved aggressively to expand gun rights.

That’s because they are either controlled politically by Republicans who oppose gun restrictions or are politically divided, leading to stalemate.

“Here I am in a position where I can do something, I can introduce legislation, and yet to know that it almost certainly is not going to go anywhere is a feeling of helplessness,” said state Sen. Greg Leding, a Democrat in the GOP-controlled Arkansas Legislature. He has pushed unsuccessfully for red flag laws that would allow authorities to remove firearms from those determined to be a danger to themselves or others.

After Tuesday’s massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 students and two teachers dead, Democratic governors and lawmakers across the country issued impassioned pleas for Congress and their own legislatures to pass gun restrictions. Republicans have mostly called for more efforts to address mental health and to shore up protections at schools, such as adding security guards.

Among them is Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has repeatedly talked about mental health struggles among young people and said tougher gun laws in places like New York and California are ineffective. In Tennessee, GOP Rep. Jeremy Faison tweeted that the state needs to have security officers “in all of our schools,” but stopped short of promising to introduce legislation during next year’s legislative session: “Evil exists and we must protect the innocent from it,” Faison said.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has repeatedly clashed with the GOP-controlled Legislature over gun laws. He has called for passage of universal background checks and “red flag” laws, only to be ignored by Republicans. Earlier this year, the Democrat vetoed a Republican bill that would have allowed holders of concealed carry permits to have firearms in vehicles on school grounds and in churches located on the grounds of a private school.

“We cannot accept that gun violence just happens,” Evers said in a tweet. “We cannot accept that kids might go to school and never come home. We cannot accept the outright refusal of elected officials to act.”

On Wednesday, a day after the Texas shooting, legislative Democrats asked that the Wisconsin gun safety bills be taken up again, apparently to no avail. Republican Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos did not return messages seeking their response.

In Pennsylvania, an effort by Democratic lawmakers Wednesday in the GOP-controlled Legislature to ban owning, selling or making high-capacity, semi-automatic firearms failed, as House Republicans displayed their firm opposition to gun restrictions. The GOP-majority Legislature has rejected appeals by Democratic governors over the past two decades to tighten gun control laws, including taking steps such as expanding background checks or limiting the number of handgun purchases one person can make in a month.

The situation is similar in Michigan, which has a Democratic governor and Republican-controlled Legislature. On Wednesday, Democrats in the state Senate were thwarted in their efforts to advance a group of bills that would require gun owners to lock up their firearms and keep them away from minors.

“Every day we don’t take action, we are choosing guns over children,” said Democratic Sen. Rosemary Bayer, whose district includes a high school where a teen was charged in a shooting that killed four in November and whose parents are charged with involuntary manslaughter, accused of failing to lock up their gun. “Enough is enough. No more prayers, no more thoughts, no more inaction.”

Republican state Sen. Ken Horn responded by urging discussion about the other potential causes of gun violence.

“I would just point out that there are political solutions, but there are just as many spiritual solutions,” he said. “We don’t know what’s really happening in this world, what’s happening in this country, what’s happening to young men.”

Florida stands out as a Republican-controlled state that took action. The 2018 shooting at a high school in Parkland that left 14 students and three staff members dead prompted lawmakers there to pass a law with a red flag provision that lets law enforcement officers petition a court to have guns confiscated from a person considered a threat.

Democrats now want that expanded to allow family members or roommates to make the same request of the courts, but there has been little appetite among Republicans to amend the law. Instead, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said he wants lawmakers to allow people to carry handguns without a permit. The state currently requires a concealed weapons license.

While Republicans have supported red flag laws in some other states, most legislative action around gun control in recent years has been in states led by Democrats.

In Washington state, the governor earlier this year signed a package of bills related to firearm magazine limits, ghost guns and adding more locations where guns are prohibited, including ballot counting sites.

In California on Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom and top Democratic legislative leaders vowed to fast-track gun legislation, identifying about a dozen bills they plan to pass this year. Newsom highlighted a bill that would let private citizens enforce a ban on assault weapons by filing lawsuits – similar to a law in Texas that bans most abortions through civil enforcement.

Oregon’s Democratically controlled Legislature has passed bills that require background checks, prohibit guns on public school grounds, allow firearms to be taken from those who pose a risk and ensure safe storage of firearms. On Wednesday, a group of six Democrats said more must be done after the mass shooting in Texas and the racially motivated massacre in Buffalo, New York. They pledged additional action next year.

“We ran for office to solve big problems and make life better for our constituents — and that includes taking on the gun lobby and politicians that place profits and political power over children’s lives,” they said in a joint statement.

But there are limits even in some Democratic-controlled states, underscoring the challenge of gaining consensus to combat the rising frequency of mass shootings in the U.S.

Rhode Island has passed restrictions in recent years that include measures to ban firearms from school grounds and close the “straw purchasing” loophole that had allowed people to buy guns for someone else. But bills that would ban high-capacity ammunition magazines and assault weapons have been bottled up in committee, in part because the overwhelmingly Democratic chamber includes many lawmakers who have opposed the measures, citing their support for the Second Amendment.

In Connecticut, gun violence legislation supported by both parties swiftly followed after 20 children and six staff members were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary Schoo l in 2012. But additional gun control measures stalled this year in the Democratic-led General Assembly, in large part because of a short legislative session and threats by Republicans to hold up legislation through a filibuster.

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said Wednesday he’s uncertain whether he will call a special session on the bills. They would put limits on bulk purchases of firearms and require the registration of so-called ghost guns, untraceable firearms that can be assembled at home.

“I think it’s become an incredibly partisan argument right now in our society,” Lamont said. “It wasn’t that way, you know, 30, 40 years ago. So that is disturbing, even in a state like Connecticut, where after Sandy Hook we had strong bipartisan support.”

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DeMillo reported from Little Rock, Arkansas. Associated Press statehouse reporters from around the U.S. contributed to this report.

Iowa part of settlement involving mileage claims for Ford pickups

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RADIO IOWA – Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced Iowa is part of a multistate settlement with Ford Motor Company regarding gas mileage claims for pickups.

The settlement came after allegations that Ford falsely advertised the fuel economy of its 2013-2014 C-Max hybrids and the payload capacity of model year 2011-2014 Super Duty pickup trucks.

Iowa will receive more than $289,000 from the settlement which will all go to the Consumer Education Fund. The settlement agreement also prohibits Ford from making false or misleading advertising claims concerning the estimated fuel economy or payload capacity of a new motor vehicle.

It subjects Ford to penalties under the Iowa Consumer Fraud Act if a court determines that Ford violated the settlement agreement.

Pella doubles teams place at State 1A tennis tournament

Pella had two doubles teams place at the Boys’ Class 1A State Tennis Tournament Wednesday (5/25) in Waterloo.  Pella’s Caleb Briggs and Jack Briggs defeated a team from Boone in the semifinals, 6-1, 6-0. Then in the championship match, the Brothers Briggs fell to Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Declan Coe and Hugh Courter 7-5, 6-4.  Pella’s other doubles team of Cameron Rowe and Cashen Thompson lost to a team from Camanche, 6-3, 6-4 in the match for seventh place.

In 1A singles, Alejo Marcon of Pella Christian finished in fifth place after winning two consolation matches Wednesday, including a 6-3, 6-4 win over Roan Martineau of Dubuque Wahlert for fifth place.

Ottumwa chiropractor to cease practice while criminal case is resolved

An Ottumwa chiropractor accused of inappropriate contact with a young boy has agreed to stop practicing.  According to court documents, 62-year-old Bruce Lindgren allegedly told a 10-year-old boy to take off his shirt, then went on to massage the boy with lotion, hug him and kiss him on top of the head.  The report goes on to state that the boy was not a client. He was only at the clinic with an adult friend and their child. Iowa Board of Chiropractic says Lindgren has agreed to not practice his trade until the criminal charges are resolved. And the Board will not pursue disciplinary action against Lindgren until the charges are resolved.  Lindberg is charged with one count of assault, a simple misdemeanor.

 

Boys State Tennis & Golf

A doubles team from Pella has reached the semifinals of the State 1A Boys’ High School Tennis tournament in Waterloo.  The second seeded team of Caleb Briggs and Jack Briggs won both of their matches Tuesday (5/24) to reach the semis, where they will face a team from Boone on Wednesday.  Also in 1A doubles, Pella’s team of Cameron Rowe and Cashen Thompson won in the first round, but lost in the second and then beat a team from Fairfield in the consolation round and will play a team from Waverly-Shell Rock Wednesday.  In Class 1A singles, Calvin Jaworski of Grinnell and Joshua Roozeboom of Pella lost their first round matches, while Pella Christian’s Alejo Marcon won in the first round, but lost in the second.  Jaworski won his first consolation match, then lost his second.  Roozeboom won his first consolation match, then lost to Macron in the consolation round.  Macron plays Nathan Brown of Clarinda in the consolation round Wednesday (5/25).

Meanwhile, in the Class 2A singles tournament in Cedar Rapids…Toby Schmidt of Ottumwa won his first round match, then lost in the quarterfinals.  Schmidt then lost his first match in the consolation round.

At the State Class 3A boys’ golf tournament in Ames, Pella finished in fourth place, Knoxville tied for fifth place, and Newton was eighth.  Individually, Pella’s Will Simpson finished second at five over par after a 73 Tuesday.  Evan Smith of Knoxville tied for fourth at ten over.  Newton’s Ethan Walker was 18th after shooting 86.  Oskaloosa’s Johnathon Terpstra shot 88 Tuesday and finished at 36 over par–tied for 37th place.

Meanwhile, in Class 2A State golf, Grant Van Veen of PCM shot 91 Tuesday and finished in 58th place.

Steve Tucker Announces Retirement

William Penn University Athletics Director Nik Rule has announced the retirement of Steve Tucker as Head Men’s Golf Coach effective May 31.

Tucker recently finished his 19th overall season at the helm in his third separate stint; he also headed the women’s program for five years in the late 1990s.

He guided the Statesmen to their first conference title in over 40 years back in 2018 and their first-ever national tournament appearance that season as well.

In his most recent stint, Tucker coached nine all-conference players (one conference Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year) as well as three all-region selections and one All-American.  Academically, four of his teams were honored as NAIA Scholar Teams, while he also produced 13 academic all-conference honorees and three NAIA Scholar-Athletes.

“Coach Tucker has been a dedicated and valued servant leader to our athletic department and our golf program for many years,” Rule said.  “He has impacted so many in our men’s golf program, helping so many of us have a great experience at William Penn.  He is a life-long Statesmen who will forever be a part of our family.  We have a deep sense of gratitude for his years of service.”

“It has been an amazing experience teaching and coaching at William Penn University for most of the past 36 years,” Tucker said.  “I give thanks to the administration for giving me the opportunity.  The best part of the “job” was all the great people and life-long friends I have met; I was able to coach four of my own boys, which was priceless.  The most thanks need to go my family and especially my wife for allowing me to pursue teaching and coaching as a part-time job.  Go Statesmen!”

William Penn has already begun the search for the next head coach of the program.

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