Enough armed police officers to stop the shooting at Robb Elementary School arrived within three minutes after the gunman began firing, a senior Texas police official said Tuesday.
Police officers in Uvalde, Texas, stood in a school hallway for 77 minutes, guns in hand, waiting for extra manpower and other tactical gear before finally storming the classroom and killing the gunman, who had already killed 19 students and two teachers .
Neither officer attempted to enter the two classrooms where the gunman killed 21 people, despite previous claims that they had to wait so long to enter because the doors were locked and they were waiting for keys.
“I don’t care if you wear flip-flops and Bermuda shorts, you go in,” Texas Department of Public Safety director Steve McCraw said Tuesday during a Senate committee hearing.
The newly released surveillance footage was obtained from the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV and shared ahead of the hearing.
“The officers had guns, the children didn’t. The officers wore protective vests, the children did not. Officers had training, subject had none,” McCraw said.
McCraw called the police response to the shooting, one of the deadliest in recent US history, a “pathetic failure” and said it was “contradictory” to the lessons learned since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 became.
Not only was the door used to enter the classroom unlocked, but the lock was picked, McCraw said, noting that the teacher had asked that the door be fixed before the shooting.
“I have good reason to believe it was never secured,” McCraw said of the door. “How about you try the door and see if it’s locked?”
Law enforcement officers’ delayed response has been the subject of both state and federal investigations, and the newly released information appears to indicate officers could have finished off the shooter sooner than they did.
The shooter, Salvador Ramos, entered the school at 11:33 a.m. local time. Within three minutes, 11 police officers had arrived at the school. An officer with a ballistic shield was at the school at 11:52 a.m.
Police finally entered the classroom at 12:50 p.m. and shot the shooter.
McCraw specifically criticized the on-site commander for ordering officers to wait before confronting the gunman rather than immediately storming the classroom.
That commander, too, the school district police chief Peter Arredondo, initially thought the situation had changed from an active gunman to a barricaded subject. He mistakenly believed that the situation posed no active threat.
Arredondo has also said repeatedly that he does not consider himself responsible and assumed that someone else took control of the police response.
Not only did he have the wrong information, but he also didn’t have a radio with him, which encouraged miscommunication between officers throughout the incident. According to officials, none of the handheld radios used by local law enforcement officers actually worked at the school.
Parents of shooting victims and members of the Uvalde community have also criticized Arredondo’s leadership, with many calling him “incompetent”. At a school board meeting on Monday, many community members called for his resignation.
“To have Pete still employed and knowing that he is unable to make life-saving decisions is appalling,” said Brett Cross, the uncle of college student Uziyah Garcia, who died in the shooting. “Innocence does not hide, innocence does not change her story, but innocence died on May 24th.”
Some participants in Monday’s gathering even held signs that read “Fire Pete Arredondo” in front of the school’s auditorium.
Arredondo publicly defended the police response to the shooting earlier this month, telling the Texas Tribune, “Not a single responding officer has ever hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children.”
More details of the May 24 shooting are expected to be discussed Tuesday in the Texas Senate.
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https://metro.co.uk/2022/06/21/texas-school-shooting-police-arrived-at-uvalde-within-19-minutes-16866836/ Texas school shooting: Police arrived in Uvalde within 19 minutes