UVALDE, Texas (AP) — Several police officers armed with guns and at least one ballistic shield stood in a hallway at Robb Elementary School within 19 minutes of a gunman arriving on campus, according to documents obtained by the Austin American statesmana devastating new revelation that deepens the question of why police didn’t act faster to stop the shooter who killed 19 children and two teachers last month.
The series of revelations, which began the same week as the May 24 mass murder, has left the impression of an awkward law enforcement response.
The newspaper cited documents, including school surveillance and police body camera videos, by unidentified investigators at the May 24 massacre. The information is scheduled to be presented Tuesday at a public hearing by the Texas Senate in Austin. Investigators say the latest information suggests officers had more than enough firepower and protection to take out the gunman long before they finally did, the newspaper reported.
The timeline the American statesman reported from the documents included footage from inside the school showing the 18-year-old gunman casually entering through a back door at 11:33 a.m., walking to a classroom and immediately firing shots, before he barricaded himself. The video showed 11 officers entering the school three minutes later, the newspaper reported.
School district police chief Pete Arredondo called the Uvalde Police Department’s landline number and reported that their suspect was “shooting a lot” with an AR-15 rifle and passing officers at the school, who he said were armed only with pistols , the newspaper reported.
Four minutes later, at 11:44 a.m., body camera video picked up the sound of more gunfire. At 11:52 a.m. the first ballistic shield arrived as officers grew impatient to act. Arredondo struggled to find a key to the classroom door, although it is believed no one tried to open the door, the newspaper reported.
Another officer with a ballistic shield arrived at 12:03 p.m., and another arrived two minutes later with a shield. About 30 minutes before officers finally forced down the classroom door at 12:50 p.m., Arredondo can be heard asking loudly if the gunman could be shot through a window. It wasn’t until 12:46 p.m. that Arredondo told tactical team members to break down the door when they were ready, the newspaper reported.
Delays in law enforcement responses have been the focus of investigations into the massacre and its federal, state, and local aftermath. Questions about law enforcement’s response began days after the massacre. Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said May 27 that Arredondo made “the wrong decision” when he chose not to storm the classroom for more than 70 minutes, even as a fourth-grader in two classrooms desperate were calling 911 for help.
Another legislative committee held two days of scheduled closed-door hearings in Uvalde on Tuesday about these delays.
State MP Dustin Burrows, chairman of the committee investigating the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, had said earlier today that the panel would be hearing further testimony from Uvalde Police, as well as another officer from the school district police and a Member of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
After Burrows’ opening statements during the committee hearing in Uvalde, the committee entered the executive session and prevented the public from hearing testimonies. Burrows did not immediately emerge from the executive session Monday afternoon to make a statement about the day’s witness testimony.
Burrows said testimony will continue Tuesday in Austin. He said he hopes to provide information on when at least a preliminary report will be released to the public.
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