(Video Credit: KVUE)
Eleven police officers armed with rifles and at least one ballistic shield reportedly entered Robb Elementary School after the gunmen went into the building but waited almost an hour to breach the classroom where he was barricaded.
Some details are still conflicting concerning the timeline. The Austin American Statesman reported on Monday that officers entered 19 minutes after the gunman on May 24. CNN is reporting that officers were inside the school within three minutes, according to an anonymous law enforcement source.
The mass shooting left 19 students and two teachers dead before the police took out the gunman.
The timeline is crucial in determining the events of that tragic day. Surveillance footage within the school shows armed officers in the hallway at 11:52 am. The shooter, Salvador Ramos, entered the school at 11:33 am through an unlocked exterior door.
BREAKING: Multiple officers were inside Robb Elementary School with rifles and at least one ballistic shield at 11:52 a.m. the day of the shooting, new video and other evidence shows. They didn’t enter the classroom for another 58 minutes. More soon via @statesman and @KVUE. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/0BcYgq2hcQ
— Tony Plohetski (@tplohetski) June 20, 2022
Law enforcement officers are shown on video inside Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School at 12:04 p.m. on May 24.
They have guns. They have shields.
— Texas Tribune (@TexasTribune) June 21, 2022
This latest report contradicts an earlier one that stated the Uvalde school district police chief, Pete Arredondo, was waiting on tactical gear to arrive before entering the school.
“There were 19 officers in there,” Col. Steven McCraw, who is the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told the press days after the shooting. “In fact, there were plenty of officers to do whatever needed to be done, with one exception — the incident commander inside believed they needed more equipment and more officers to do a tactical breach at that point.”
That statement turned out to be not completely factual as school security footage, as well as body cam video, showed officers were apparently armed and had sufficient protection to breach the classroom and take out the gunman, according to the Statesman.
Even more damning is evidence that the first officer to enter the school with a ballistic shield wondered why they weren’t attempting to breach the classroom.
“If there’s kids in there, we need to go in there,” the officer reportedly stated on body cam footage.
Another officer indicated that it was unclear if there were any children in the classrooms and the officer again reiterated the need “to go in there.” He was told that whoever was in charge would determine that, according to reports. The officer then began to help evacuate other children who were still in the school.
A second officer with a ballistic shield arrived at 12:03 pm, followed by a third just two minutes later.
Arredondo told SWAT to breach the classroom when they were ready at 12:46 pm after attempting to speak with Ramos. Four minutes later SWAT entered the classroom and dispatched Ramos.
Some of the delayed entry evidently had to do with an attempt to find keys to unlock the classroom door but it is not clear that it was actually locked. Police did not attempt to check if it was locked or try and open it according to a report by the San Antonio Express-News. A Halligan bar, an ax-like tool used by firefighters to force open locked doors, was also allegedly available if the door had been locked.
The report noted that Arredondo tried dozens of keys.
The Texas Tribune reported that “by the time Arredondo called dispatch, at least 11 officers had entered the school and at least two are seen in the video carrying rifles. But Arredondo told the dispatcher that he didn’t have the firepower to confront the lone gunman.”
Officers had access to four ballistic shields inside the school according to the Tribune which cited a law enforcement transcript. The fourth arrived 30 minutes before officers stormed the classroom where Ramos was hiding.
The Texas Department of Public Safety is currently investigating officers’ response to the shooting.
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