A police officer armed with a rifle watched the gunman in the Uvalde Primary School massacre approach the campus but did not fire while waiting for a supervisor’s permission to shoot, according to a widespread criticism published Wednesday of the tactical response on the May massacre was released.
Some of the 21 victims at Robb Elementary School, including 19 children, likely could have been “saved” on May 24 if they had received medical attention sooner while police waited more than an hour before entering the fourth grade classroom broke through, a review by a training center at Texas State University found for active shooter situations.
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The report is another damning assessment of how police failed to capitalize on opportunities that could have saved lives in the deadliest school shooting in the United States since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012.
“A reasonable officer would have viewed this as an active situation and developed a plan to address the suspect,” said the report, released by the university’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Program.
The authors of the 26-page report said their findings were based on videos taken by the school, police body cameras, statements from officers at the scene and statements from investigators. About her findings:
- It appeared that no officer waiting in the hallway during the shooting ever checked that the classroom door was locked. The chief of the Texas State Police Department has also accused local officers of not checking the doors.
- The officers had “weapons (including rifles), body armor (which may or may not be designed to stop rifle rounds), training and reinforcements. The victims in the classrooms got none of it.”
- When officers finally entered the classroom at 12:50 p.m. — more than an hour after the shooting began — they were no better equipped to confront the shooter than they had been up to that point.
- Among the numerous law enforcement agencies that responded to the shooting, an “effective incident squad” never appears to have been established.
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The report follows testimony last month in which Col. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told the state Senate that the police response was a “pathetic failure.” He blamed Chief Pete Arredondo particularly, saying that the Uvalde school police chief made “terrible decisions” as commander at the scene and prevented officers from confronting the gunman sooner.
Arredondo has sought to defend his actions, telling the Texas Tribune that he does not consider himself the commander in charge of operations and assumed someone else took control of the law enforcement response. He said he didn’t have his police and campus radios, but used his cell phone to call for tactical gear, a sniper and classroom keys.
According to his report released Wednesday, Arredondo and another Uvalde police officer spent 13 minutes in the school corridor during the shooting to discuss tactical options, whether to use snipers and how to get into classroom windows.
“They also talked about who has the keys, testing keys, the likelihood of the door being locked, and whether children and teachers are dying or dead,” the report reads.
McCraw said police had enough officers and firepower at the scene of the Uvalde school massacre to stop the gunman three minutes after he entered the building and they found the door to the classroom where he was hiding unlocked If they would have bothered check it out.
A lawyer for Arredondo and a spokeswoman for the City of Uvalde Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Arredondo is on furlough from his job with the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District and resigned as councilor last week.
Leading politicians, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, initially praised the police response in Uvalde. Abbott said officers responded quickly and ran towards the gunfire with “amazing courage” to take out the killer and save lives. He later said he was misled.
© 2022 The Canadian Press
https://globalnews.ca/news/8971307/police-missed-chances-uvalde-gunman/ Police missed chances to stop Uvalde shooter before school shooting: report – National