Several students trapped inside the Uvalde school repeatedly called 911, while officers failed to act as an hour ticked by and more and more students were slaughtered. Why?
Police officers did not act sooner to stop the gunman at Robb Elementary School because the school district’s police chief wanted to wait for backup and equipment. That’s what Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said, according to the Texas Tribune.
More than an hour passed before a team of federal officers arrived and entered the school, said Mr. McCraw. That was after they first took time to secure keys from a janitor to open locked classroom doors.
That was a mistake, said Mr. McCraw at last Friday’s press conference following the May 24 shooting.
“Of course [the police stand down] was not the right decision” – DPS Head
“From the benefit of hindsight, where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision,” said Mr. McCraw. “It was the wrong decision, period. There’s no excuse for that.”
“When it comes to an active shooter,” he said, “you don’t have to wait on tactical gear, plain and simple.”
Gov. Abbott says he was “misled”
Governor Abbott said later in the day that he was “misled” about the police response to the shooting. His initial press conference praise for police who handled the shooting was: “The reason it was not worse is because law enforcement officials did what they do.”
Uvalde school district police said they had prepped for months for just such a shooting as happened last week.
Practice, Practice, Practice?
The school district’s police department said in a March 22 Facebook post that it had hosted an “active shooter training” the previous day. The Uvalde school’s PD also said it had previously hosted “several” other such drills. The goal, the PD said, was to “train every Uvalde area law enforcement officer so that we can prepare as best as possible for any situation that may arise.”
The Texas Tribune reported that by March 22, the gunman was already trying to buy a gun. The Tribune reported that his sister said he had asked her when he could legally buy a firearm in Texas. The future shooter asked his sister to help him buy a gun before he turned 18, but the sister refused.
On March 1, 2022, the shooter wrote on Instagram of his desire to buy a gun. Two weeks later, an Instagram post of his read “10 more days.”
According to Mr. McCraw, someone replied, “Are you gonna’ shoot up a school or something?”
“No,” said the future shooter. “Stop asking dumb questions. You’ll see.”
Earlier this month, the killer legally purchased two AR platform rifles from a federally licensed gun store. He bought the first one a day after his 18th birthday and exactly a week before he approached the elementary school with both rifles and more than 1,600 rounds of ammunition. It was unclear how he was able to come up with the several thousand dollars he needed to buy the weapons and expensive ammunition.
The first call to Uvalde police came around 11:20 a.m. on May 23, when the killer’s grandmother called 911 to report that he had shot her in the face at her home, which was located about two minutes from Robb Elementary.
The shooter fled in his grandmother’s pickup truck and crashed it in a ditch near the school at 11:28 a.m. Mr. McGraw said he was carrying 58 magazines and 1,657 rounds of ammunition.
Mr. McCraw said the shooter fired at two people on the street, then went to the school, where he fired shots at the building from outside. Then he entered the building at 11:33 a.m. through a back door that a teacher had left propped open. [Why?]
Once inside, the gunman entered a pair of connected classrooms — rooms 111 and 112. It was there where he is thought to have killed 19 children, two teachers, and wounded 17 others. Mr. McCraw said the gunman had fired more than 100 rounds to that moment. According to him, the shooter then fired at least 186 rounds from the time he crashed his grandmother’s truck outside the school to the moment he was killed.
Local police officers quickly arrived at the school and entered two minutes after the gunman at 11:35 a.m., said Mr. McCraw. But they fell back after two officers were shot and wounded. Officials said that officers tried to negotiate with the shooter, but the man “did not respond.”
Additional Police Mistakes – 19 Police wait outside classrooms
McCraw said the commander on site at that point treated the situation as a “barricaded suspect” case and thought children were no longer at risk, which McCraw also called a mistake. McCraw said at one point there were as many as 19 officers in the hallway outside the classrooms where the gunman had locked himself inside with students and teachers.
“There was plenty of officers [at the scene] to do what needed to be done,” McCraw said.
Throughout the hour it took for law enforcement to reach and kill the gunman, 911 calls came from inside the classrooms. McCraw said the first call came at 12:03 p.m., followed by another from a student inside room 112 at 12:16 p.m. The student told the 911 operator there were eight or nine students still alive in the classrooms, McCraw said.
The Texas Tribune reported that McCraw, who had praised the police response the day after the shooting, struck a less defensive posture on Friday, May 27.
The Trib wrote: “During a contentious press conference, he often looked visibly unsettled and choked up near the end.”
McGraw said: “We’re not here to defend what happened.”
In addition to the police mistakes, many questions remain about how an 18-year-old was able to come up with roughly $5,000 to buy two AR-15 weapons.
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by Matthews & Associates