Police Response to Uvalde School Massacre Was Worse Than Originally Reported

·3 min read
 Reggie Daniels pays his respects at a memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on June 9, 2022, honoring the two teachers and 19 students killed in the shooting at the school on May 24.
Reggie Daniels pays his respects at a memorial at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on June 9, 2022, honoring the two teachers and 19 students killed in the shooting at the school on May 24.

There was already plenty of evidence that the first cops to respond as the Uvalde massacre unfolded showed awful judgment, if not outright cowardice.

Turns out the details are even worse than we thought. New reporting from multiple outlets including CNN, the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV shows that officers from the Uvalde school police force not only waited in a hallway for nearly an hour before confronting the gunman, but they did so while holding assault rifles and at least one ballistic shield. In addition to the heavy firepower and protective gear, the new report shows that those officers were inside the school within 19 minutes of being dispatched.

In short, the new information—backed by surveillance video from inside Robb Elementary School—shows that the Uvalde cops had guns that were at least as powerful as the AR-15 rifle brandished by the killer, in addition to a shield that could have offered them at least some protection in the event he opened fire on them. It also brings into more focus the question of whether any elapsed time between the shooter entering the school and federal agents finally overruling local cops on scene and gunning him down, may have contributed to the ultimate death toll of 19 children and two adults in the incident last month.

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From CBS News

The information is to be presented to a public Texas Senate hearing in Austin on Tuesday. Investigators say the latest information indicates officers had more than enough firepower and protection to take down the gunman long before they finally did, the outlets reported.

The timeline the American-Statesman and KVUE reported from the documents included footage from inside the school that showed the 18-year-old gunman casually entering a rear door at 11:33 a.m., walking to a classroom and immediately spraying gunfire before barricading himself. Video showed 11 officers entering the school three minutes later, the outlets reported.

Arredondo called the Uvalde Police Department landline and reported that their suspect had “shot a lot” with an AR-15-style rifle and outgunned the officers at the school, who he said were armed only with pistols, the outlets reported.

Four minutes later, at 11:44 a.m., body camera video recorded the sound of more gunshots. 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 even though no one is believed to have tried opening the door, the outlets reported.

Another officer with a ballistic shield arrived at 12:03 p.m., and another came with a shield two minutes later. About 30 minutes before officers finally breached the classroom door at 12:50 p.m., Arredondo is heard wondering aloud if the gunman could be shot through a window. Only at 12:46 p.m. did Arredondo tell the tactical team members to breach the door when ready, the outlets reported.

Arredondo references Uvalde School Police Chief Pete Arredondo, who since the shooting was sworn in as a local city councilman and has admitted to a number of questionable tactics. Arredondo said in an interview with the Texas Tribune last month that he left his two police radios outside the school, leaving him off of key law enforcement communication chains. He also said once inside the school he didn’t realize that he was the commanding officer in charge of the situation.