Report says cop had a chance to take out Uvalde shooter before massacre, but worried about child safety

As investigations into law enforcement’s response to the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas continue, a new report added weight to there being failures at the scene after it was revealed there may actually have been multiple opportunities for the tragedy to be prevented.

Following conflicting reports in the wake of the horrific murder of 19 children and two teachers on May 24, it was believed that officers had not arrived on the scene until moments after the suspect had entered the school. Now, according to a report from The New York Times, at least one investigation found that not only had an officer arrived at Robb before the murderer headed inside, he also had an opportunity to shoot the suspect.

“At least two law enforcement cars arrived in close succession at the school, according to investigatory documents reviewed by The New York Times,” the outlet reported Friday. “One was driven by an officer from the small police force that patrols Uvalde’s schools. Another arrived less than a minute later, at 11:32 a.m., with officers from the Uvalde Police Department.”

According to the Times, Chief Deputy Sheriff Ricardo Rios of Zavala County, who had also responded to the emergency at the school that day, said, “My understanding, after talking to several officers that were there, was that the gunman engaged two City of Uvalde officers when they got there, outside the building.”

The report suggested that a member of the Uvalde Police Department was on scene with a rifle and had the 18-year-old suspect in his sights but hesitated to fire. “I asked him, ‘Why didn’t you shoot? Why didn’t you engage?’ And that’s when he told me about the background,” Rios explained. “According to the officers, they didn’t engage back because in the background there was kids playing and they were scared of hitting the kids.”

The investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), which is being aided by the Texas Rangers, is one of at least three ongoing reviews of the tragedy. The U.S. Department of Justice and a committee of the Texas state Legislature are also conducting investigations.

Should the report prove accurate, it only further contradicts claims made by law enforcement leaders like Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo. He has gone on the record stating, “Not a single responding officer ever hesitated, even for a moment, to put themselves at risk to save the children.”

While it remains understandable that an officer would hesitate to fire if there were civilians, especially children, within the line of fire, to suggest they had not put their own safety ahead of the children in the building is not supported by the facts if the officers were in fact holding behind cover prior to the suspect entering the school as Rios suggested.

In addition to a report of an officer driving by the suspect and missing seeing him before he entered the building, there was also the report from Cody Briseno who explained that he and his coworker, both employees at the nearby funeral home, were who the suspect had originally opened fire at after crashing his truck.

Briseno claimed that after he and his coworker had gone to check on the driver, they were fired upon and ran for cover. After that, Briseno said he retrieved his gun from his wife and attempted to go after the suspect as police arrived on scene.

“Hey, what are you doing?” he said an officer allegedly asked as he approached the building. Briseno replied, “I’m going to go in and try to stop them.” After reporting to the officers that the suspect was already inside, Briseno contended they told him to stay back and shut up.

As part of DPS’s investigation, Rios spoke with a Texas Ranger and said of the officer who may have had a chance to stop the suspect, “I’m not bashing him or anything. I get it. The Ranger who took my statement even said: ‘It’s come to the point where we’re second-guessing ourselves shooting somebody because we’re scared. Every bullet has our names.'”


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Kevin Haggerty


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