Video shows armed police waiting in hallway during Uvalde school massacre
Miami, Jun 21 (EFE).- Texas media outlets released a new video showing a number of armed Uvalde police officers waiting in a school hallway, where a lone teenage gunman massacred 19 students and two teachers on May 24.
The officers waited nearly an hour before they moved into the classrooms, despite the fact that the doors apparently were not locked, according to the daily Austin American-Statesman and Channel KVUE-TV, which released the images on Monday night.
Investigative reporter Tony Plohetsk, who works for both media outlets, said that many officers were inside Robb Elementary School with rifles and at least bulletproof shield at 11:52 am on the day of the massacre but didn’t enter the classroom suite where the killings took place for another 58 minutes.
The videotape comes as parents of the murdered and wounded students, starting during the massacre, had begged police to go into the school and stop the gunman’s rampage, and since that time they have questioned the authorities’ delay in doing so.
The investigation into the incident shows that at least 77 minutes elapsed between the time the shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, entered the school and when he was finally shot dead by security forces.
Investigators believe that Ramos could not have locked the door to the classroom in which he opened fire on the students and their teachers.
The officers in the hallway apparently wanted to immediately enter Rooms 111 and 112, which were connected, and where the daughter of one of the officers was located, but it was not clear which officer was in charge to give the order.
Ramos was able to enter the school without any problem carrying an AR-15 assault rifle after shooting his grandmother in the face at her home.
A special agent who arrived on the scene about 20 minutes after the initial deployment of police, asked the officers there if there were children inside the school and they responded yes, adding that they must go in to find the gunman, but the Texas Tribune reported that the commander on the scene had to be the one to give that order.
After that exchange, almost another hour passed before a Border Patrol tactical team broke into the doors of the classroom suite and killed the gunman.
Authorities have shared contradictory information about who was in charge on the scene, who confronted the shooter and at what point.
The Uvalde school police chief, Pete Arredondo, is in the middle of the controversy and he has said that doors were indeed locked and his officers were waiting for a master key to unlock them so that they could enter.
Meanwhile, the director of the Texas Public Safety Department, Steven McCraw, on Tuesday said that Ramos could have been confronted by police in the first few minutes after entering the elementary school.
“Three minutes after the subject entered the west building there were sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract, and neutralize the subject,” McCraw testified before the Texas Senate.
He made clear that time was wasted and none of the officers even tried to open one of the doors.
He stressed that he does not believe the door was locked and added that it would not have been necessary to wait for keys even if it was because it could have been broken down and the officers had the tools to do so.
“The only thing stopping the hallway of dedicated officers from entering Rooms 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children,” he said McCraw described the Uvalde police operation as “an abject failure and antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre,” and he harshly criticized Arredondo.
He added that the school’s teachers, not law enforcement personnel, should be the ones being praised for their actions to protect their students during the massacre.
“Terrible decisions were made by the on-scene commander and should have never happened, plain and simple,” McCraw said.