Response to Uvalde school shooting a ‘dismal failure’, Texas official testifies

Law enforcement had enough officers at the scene of the Uvalde school massacre to arrest the gunman three minutes after he entered the building, the Texas public safety chief testified Tuesday, calling the police response of « dismal failure ».

Instead, police armed with rifles stood and waited for more than an hour as the gunman carried out the May 24 attack that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, testified at a state Senate hearing on the police handling of the tragedy. Delays in law enforcement response have become the focus of federal, state and local investigations.

« Obviously not enough training was given in this situation, plain and simple. Because terrible decisions were made by the commander on scene, » McCraw said of Pete Arredondo, the police chief of the Uvalde school district.

Eight minutes after the shooter entered the building, an officer reported that police had a « hooligan » crowbar they could use to break down the classroom door, McCraw said. Nineteen minutes after the shooter entered, the first ballistic shield was brought into the building by police, the witness said.

McCraw told the Senate committee that Arredondo decided to put the lives of officers ahead of children.

Confirm X-ray report

The head of public safety began to describe to the committee a series of missed opportunities, communication breakdowns and other errors:

  • Arredondo did not have a radio with him, confirming earlier reports.
  • The police and sheriff’s radios did not work in the school; only the Border Patrol agents’ radios on the scene worked inside the school, and even they didn’t work perfectly.
  • Some school diagrams that the police used to coordinate their response were flawed.
  • The classroom door could not be locked from the inside.

State police initially said the shooter entered the school through an exterior door that was held open by a teacher, but McGraw said the teacher closed the door and she could not be locked only from the outside.

« There’s no way for her to know the door is locked, » McGraw said. « He went straight. »

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Questions about the response from law enforcement began days after the massacre. McCraw said three days after the shooting that Arredondo made « the wrong decision » when he chose not to storm the classroom for more than 70 minutes, even as fourth-graders trapped in two classrooms desperately calling 911 for help and anxious parents outside the school. agents to get inside.

Arredondo later said he did not consider himself the person responsible and assumed that someone else had taken control of law enforcement’s response.

Arredondo declined repeated requests for comment from The Associated Press.

The 18-year-old shooter used an AR-15 type semi-automatic rifle.

In the days and weeks after the shooting, authorities gave conflicting and incorrect accounts of what happened, sometimes retracting statements hours after they were made.

“Everything I testified today is corroborated,” McCraw assured lawmakers.


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