By JIM VERTUNO and JAKE BLEIBERG
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Police had enough officers at the Uvalde school massacre site to detain the gunman three minutes after he entered the building, and never checked the door of a classroom to see if it was closed, Texas. The head of public security on Tuesday declared the police response to be an “abject failure”.
Police officers with rifles stood and waited for more than an hour before they finally stormed the classroom and killed the gunman, ending the May 24 attack that left 19 children and two teachers dead.
It turned out that the classroom door could not be closed from the inside, although there is no evidence that officers attempted to open the door while the gunman was inside, said Colonel Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Instead, he said, the police waited for a key.
“I have great reason to believe it was never insured,” McCraw told the door. “How about testing the door and seeing if it’s closed?”
McCraw testified at a state Senate hearing on police handling of the tragedy. Delays in law enforcement response have become the focus of federal, state, and local investigations.
“Obviously, not enough training has been done in this situation, simple and straightforward. Because terrible decisions were made by the commander on the spot, “McCraw said of Pete Arredondo, Uvalde’s school district police chief.
Eight minutes after the shooter entered the building, an officer reported that police had a “hooligan” lever that he could use to break down the classroom door, McCraw said. Nineteen minutes after the gunman entered, police inserted the first ballistic shield into the building, the witness testified.
McCraw told the Senate committee that Arredondo decided to put the agents’ lives ahead of the children’s lives.
The head of public safety exposed to the committee a number of missed opportunities, communication failures and other errors, including:
– Arredondo did not carry a radio with him.
– The police and sheriff’s radios did not work inside the school; only the radios of the Border Patrol agents on the spot worked inside the school, and they didn’t even work perfectly.
– Some diagrams of the school that the police were using to coordinate their response were incorrect.
State police initially said the gunman entered the school through an outside door that had been opened by a teacher, but McGraw said the teacher had closed the door and could only be locked from the outside.
“There’s no way she’ll know the door is closed,” McGraw said. “He went straight through.”
Questions about the response of law enforcement began days after the massacre. Three days after the shooting, McCraw said Arredondo made the “wrong decision” when he chose not to assault the classroom for more than 70 minutes, though roommates trapped inside two classrooms desperately called 911 for help and distressed parents out of school they urged. officers to enter.
Arredondo later said he was not considered responsible and assumed that someone else had taken control of the law enforcement response. Arredondo declined repeated requests for comment to The Associated Press.
As for the time that elapsed before officers entered the classroom, McCraw said, “In an active shooting environment, that’s intolerable.”
“This has taken our profession back a decade. That’s what he did,” he said of the police response in Uvalde.
The 18-year-old gunman used an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle.
In the days and weeks after the shooting, authorities gave contradictory and incorrect accounts of what happened, sometimes withdrawing statements hours after making them. But McCraw assured lawmakers, “Everything I testified today is corroborated.”
McGraw said if only one recommendation could be made, it would be for more training. He also said he should put a “go-bag” on every Texas state patrol, including a shield and tools to break down doors.
“I want every cop to know how to rape and have the tools to do it,” he said.
Bleiberg and Associated Press writer Jamie Stengle contributed to this report from Dallas.
Find more AP coverage of the Uvalde school shooting: https://apnews.com/hub/uvalde-school-shooting
Uvalde police response an ‘abject failure’ – Press Telegram Source link Uvalde police response an ‘abject failure’ – Press Telegram