A police officer armed with a rifle watched as the gunman walked to the campus in the Uvalde Primary School massacre, but did not shoot while waiting for a supervisor’s permission to shoot, according to a comprehensive critique which was released on Wednesday on the tactical response to the May tragedy.
Some of the 21 victims at Robb Primary School, including 19 children, could possibly have been “rescued” on May 24 if they had received medical attention earlier while police waited more than an hour before violating the grade fourth classroom, according to a review by a Texas State University training center for active shooting situations.
The report is another damning assessment of how police failed to act on life-saving opportunities in what became the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. since the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
“A reasonable officer would have considered it an active situation and devised a plan to address the suspect,” reads the report published by the university’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Program.
The authors of the 26-page report said their findings were based on video taken from the school, police body cameras, testimony from officers at the scene and statements from investigators. Among their findings:
It turned out that no officer who was waiting in the corridor during the shooting ever tested whether the door to the classroom was locked. The head of Texas’ state police agency also blamed officers at the scene for not checking the doors.
The officers had “weapons (including guns), body weapons (which may have been graded to stop gun rounds), training and backup. The victims in the classrooms had none of these things.”
– When officers finally entered the classroom at 12:50 – more than an hour after the shooting began – they were no better equipped to confront the gunman than they had been up to that point.
“Effective incident order” never appears to have been established among the multiple law enforcement agencies that responded to the shooting.
The gunman, an 18-year-old with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle, entered the building at 11:33 p.m. Before that, an Uvalde police officer, who did not identify the report, saw the gunman carrying a gun to the west. hall entrance. The officer asked a supervisor for permission to make fire, but the supervisor “either did not hear or responded too late,” the report said.
When the officer turned back to the armed man, he entered, according to the report.
The officer was 148 meters away from the door, which according to the report was within range of his rifle, and allegedly said he was concerned that a faulty shot could have penetrated the school and injured students inside.
“Ultimately, the decision to use lethal force always lies with the officer who will use the force. If the officer was not confident that he could hit both his target and from his background if he did not miss, he should not have shot, “read the report.
The report is one of multiple factual briefs unveiled in the wake of the worst school shooting in Texas’ history.
A committee formed by Texas lawmakers also interviewed more than 20 people, including officers who were at the scene, for several weeks behind closed doors. The committee said on Wednesday that Ruben Nolasco, sheriff of the Uvalde district, refused a meeting, and it sent a letter to enforce his testimony. Nolasco did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Colonel Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, testified before the state legislature last month that the police response was a “deliberate failure.” He especially blamed principal Pete Arredondo, saying the Uvalde schools police chief as commander at the scene made “terrible decisions” and prevented officers from confronting the gunman earlier.
Arredondo tried to defend his actions and told the Texas Tribune that he did not consider himself the commander in charge of operations and that he accepted that someone else had taken control of the law enforcement response. He said he did not have his police and campus radios, but that he used his cell phone to call tactical equipment, a sniper and the classroom keys.
According to the report released on Wednesday, Arredondo and another Uvalde police officer spent 13 minutes in school during the shooting to discuss tactical options, or to use snipers and how to get in the classroom windows.
“They also discussed who has the keys, tests keys, the likelihood that the door will be locked, and whether children and teachers die or die,” the report said.
McCraw said police had enough officers and firefighters at the scene of the Uvalde school massacre to stop the gunman three minutes after he entered the building, and they would find the door to the classroom where he was locked unlocked. if they bothered to check it out.
An Arredondo attorney and a spokesman for the Uvalde City Police Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Arredondo is on leave from his job at the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District and resigned from his post as city council member last week.