The law enforcement response to the Uvalde school shooting was an “abject failure” with police lives prioritized over those of children, a top Texas official said Tuesday.
The blunt assessment by Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, was made at a state Senate committee hearing investigating last month’s mass killing.
“We do know this, there’s compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure and antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre,” he told lawmakers.
“The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from (entering rooms) 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children. The officers have weapons, the children had none.”
It’s been nearly one month since the gunman, Salvador Rolando Ramos, 18, broke into Robb Elementary School on May 24 and killed 19 children and two teachers.
The carnage ended more than an hour after it started, when a Border Patrol tactical unit finally broke into a classroom where the gunman was holed up and killed him.
After the gunman crashed his truck at 11:28 a.m. that day near the school, he entered the campus at 11:33 a.m., according to McCraw.
“And he begins shooting … more than 100 rounds were fired initially,” he said.
Much of the post-shooting attention has been on the response of local law enforcement and decisions made by Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District police chief.
McCraw, in painstaking detail, went minute by minute explaining how police could have entered the unlocked room where the shooter was.
“One hour, 14 minutes and 8 seconds. That’s how long the children waited and the teachers waited in rooms 111 (and 112) to be rescued,” he said.
“And while they waited, the on-scene commander waited for radio and rifles; and he waited for shields and he waited for SWAT.”
Since two students attacked Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, when police waited nearly an hour for a SWAT team to enter the building, law enforcement has stressed the urgency to engage the shooter.
“Lastly he waited for a key that was never needed,” McCraw said. “The post-Columbine doctrine is clear and compelling and unambiguous: Stop the killing, stop the dying. You can’t do the latter unless you do the former.”
At 12:21 p.m., a fourth shield arrived on the scene at about the same time four shots rang out from inside the classroom — but still with no action from police outside, McCraw said.
This was another point when police should have stopped viewing the situation as that of a barricaded suspect, McCraw said.
“So if this is a barricaded subject, why is he still firing?” he rhetorically asked.
The embattled law enforcement head, Arredondo, whose actions are being reviewed by both state and federal authorities, has kept a remarkably low profile since the shooting.
But he pushed back at criticism, telling the Texas Tribune in a story published earlier this month that there was no way for his officers to have confronted the gunman any sooner.
This is a developing story. Please refresh here for updates.
Source: CNBC News