Officers Responding to Uvalde School Massacre Didn’t Attempt to Open Classroom Doors for More Than an Hour, Report Says

[Breaking news update, published at 8:30 p.m. ET]

Uvalde City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday evening to reject Councilman Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, who is also the school district police chief. Leave of absence from future meetings. During the meeting, several Uvalde residents, including family members of the victims, called for Arredondo to be removed from the council rather than discharged.

[Previous story, published at 6:24 p.m. ET]

Texas Department of Public Safety director condemned law enforcement response on Tuesday Last month’s mass shooting in Uvalde as a “gross failure” and strongly criticized the decisions of Uvalde School District Police Chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo.

“There is strong evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack on Robb Elementary was a serious failure and an antidote to what we have learned in the past two decades since the Columbine massacre,” Colonel Steven McCraw told the Texas Senate. Told the special committee to keep all Texans safe.

“Three minutes after the subject entered the West Building, a sufficient number of armed officers were wearing body armor to isolate, distract and neutralize the subject,” he continued. “The only thing preventing the dedicated officers’ hallways from entering rooms 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to put the officers’ lives before the lives of the children.”

The surprising criticisms come more than a month later Sniper with AR-15-style rifle At 11:33 am they broke into two adjacent classrooms and killed 19 children and two teachers. The gunman remained inside the classrooms—even as the children inside called 911 and pleaded for help—until law enforcement eventually broke into the rooms and left the room at noon, according to a timeline from the Department of Public Safety. Killed him at 12:50.

What happened within those 77 minutes is unclear as Texas officials have offered conflicting narratives of the response.

McCraw’s comments Tuesday mark the first time that an officer has provided sufficient information on the shooting in weeks. He said the decisions to wait contradict established active-shooter protocol – to stop the suspect as quickly as possible.

“The officers had weapons, the children had none. The officers had body armor, the kids had none,” McCraw said. “The post-Columbine principle is clear and compelling and unmistakable: stop killing, stop dying.”

The Public Security Department’s timeline indicated that 11 officers arrived at the school within three minutes of the gunman entering classrooms, many of them with rifles. The suspect then shot and wounded several officers who approached the classrooms, and they retreated into a hallway outside the rooms. The group of officers then remained in the hallway and did not reach the door for 73 minutes.

“While they waited, the on-scene commanders waited for a radio and rifle,” McCraw said, referring to Arredondo. “Then he waited for the shields. Then they waited for the SWAT. In the end, he waited for a key that was never needed. ,

Arredondo was previously told the Texas Tribune He did not consider himself the incident commander that day. However, at least one officer was seen at 11:50 a.m. expressing the belief that Arredondo was leading the law enforcement response inside the school, telling others, “the chief is in charge,” of the Department of Public Safety. according to the timeline.

Despite the criticisms, McCraw expressed discomfort in calling Arredondo personally. “I don’t like to isolate and transfer a person and say that he is solely responsible, but at the end of the day, if you command the incident, you are responsible,” McCraw said.

The officers didn’t try to break down the doors for more than an hour

Reporting from CNN, late Monday, the Texas Tribune And this Austin American-politician Previewed some DPS timelines and uncovered further flaws in the police response.

In the early days after the shooting, officials said the suspect had Barricading himself behind closed doorsPreventing the aggressively reacting officers from stopping him as soon as possible.

Arredondo, who has been identified by other officials at the scene as the incident commander, previously told Texas Tribune that the authorities had found the classroom doors were closed and reinforced with a steel jamb, obstructing any possible response or defence. He said that an attempt was made to find the key to open the door.

However, McCraw said video evidence shows no one ever touched the door handle to check if it was locked. In addition, Rob Elementary’s doors were unable to close from the inside, McCraw said, calling it “ridiculous” from a security standpoint.

In addition, Arredondo initially stated that responding officers needed more firepower and equipment to break down the doors. For example, at 11:40 a.m., Arredondo called the dispatch of the Uvalde Police Department by phone, when the gunman fired at officers and requested further assistance and a radio, according to a DPS transcript.

“We just don’t have enough firepower, it’s all pistols and he has an AR-15,” Arredondo said, According to a DPS transcript,

However, according to McCraw, two of the first officers to arrive at the scene had rifles.

In the first minutes of their response, an officer also said that a halligan, a firefighting device used for forced entry, was on the scene according to the timeline. However, the device was not brought to the school until an hour after officers arrived and was never used, the timeline said.

A security footage image obtained by the Austin American-Statesman shows at least three officers in the hallway—two of whom have rifles and one with a tactical shield—at 11:52 a.m., as the gunman enters the school. 19 minutes later.

In all, the officers had four ballistic shields inside the school, a quarter of which, according to the timing, arrived 30 minutes before the officers entered the classrooms.

Why the responding officers followed Arredondo’s lead

An unidentified officer who arrived at 11:56 am said they needed to act.

“If there are kids, we need to go there,” said the officer. Another officer replied, “Whoever is in charge will determine that.”

There was massacre inside the classrooms. At around 11:33 a.m., the gunman fired over 100 rounds in a matter of minutes, and then sporadically over the next hour, including at 11:40, 11:44, and 12:21.

However, Arredondo treated the situation like a stumbling block, McCraw said, and attempted to speak with the gunman in English and Spanish.

At a Senate committee hearing, members questioned McCraw why Arredondo remained in charge of the scene despite the lack of action to stop the shooter.

McCraw said the person in charge is usually “the ranking officer of the agency that has jurisdiction”, which in this case meant Arredondo, who was also on the scene throughout the incident.

“The sheriff and the police chief of the Uvalde Police Department also turned around and said yes, he is the on-scene commander,” McCraw said. “So by actions and deeds, he issued orders and received information and provided information and controlled the scene.

“DPS, Border Patrol, FBI, whatever came later, US Marshals who came later, it’s not a practice or policy to take anything,” he said.

‘They let our kids down,’ says father

The reporting — in three different news outlets and citing unnamed sources — highlighted Texas officials’ lack of transparency to the public in such a significant incident. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat, told CNN on Monday that the reporting underscored his questions about why police didn’t try to break down the doors as soon as possible.

“We see that there are officers with enough weapons, enough equipment to be able to break into that room,” he said. “I don’t understand why it didn’t happen, why they didn’t break up the room.

“Those answers are needed. They shouldn’t be dribbling through the media like this. We should tell law enforcement agencies what exactly went wrong. And the fact that we can’t find that information is a thing in itself.” is a joke.”

CNN has contacted both Arredondo’s attorney, George Hyde, and the Uvalde Police Department regarding the report.

Arredondo, who hasn’t spoken publicly since the incident, testified behind closed doors Tuesday before the Texas House Committee to Investigate the Shooting.

The new reporting further angered the bereaved families whose questions have yet to be answered.

“I get angry,” said Jose Flores Sr., Whose 10-year-old son is Jose Flores Jr.Children were among those killed. “They let our kids down, left them there scaring them, and who knows, crying. They left them,” Flores told CNN’s “New Day” When asked about the latest revelations.

“They’re going to be trained professionals,” Flores said of the police. “I don’t understand why they stood there for so long to go back in… Standing back an entire hour, leaving them inside with that gunman, isn’t right. It’s funky, funky, funky stuff.” “

The city has been criticized for not releasing certain records relating to the investigation of the shooting. Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said the Uvalde County district attorney requested those records not be released.

“There is no coverup. Anyone who suggests the city of Uvalde is withholding information and spreading misinformation without valid and legal reasons,” McLaughlin said. “There are specific legal reasons the city cannot release the information at this time.”

DPS director McCraw made a statement that his agency eventually planned to release footage from inside body cameras and Rob Elementary.

“We’re going to release all body camera coverage whenever the district attorney approves it, we’re going to release all school videos and funeral videos,” McCraw said during Tuesday’s committee testimony.

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