Police response to Uvalde school shooting labelled ‘abject failure’

The police response to the Uvalde school massacre in Texas last month was an “abject failure,” a top law enforcement official told a hearing into the tragedy, saying officers wasted vital time looking for a classroom key that was “never needed”.
Nineteen young children and two teachers were killed when a teenager went on a rampage at Robb Elementary on 24 May in America’s worst school shooting in a decade.

Local police have been under intense scrutiny since it emerged that more than a dozen officers waited outside a pair of adjoining classrooms and did nothing as children lay dead or dying inside.

Steve McCraw, Texas’s public safety chief, told state senators investigating the handling of the tragedy that police had enough officers and gear to stop the assailant minutes after he entered the school.

But instead they waited almost one hour and 15 minutes to confront the 18-year-old gunman as he carried out his attack.

‘Terrible decisions’

“Three minutes after the subject entered the building, there was a sufficient number of armed officers, wearing body armour, to isolate, distract and neutralise the subject,” said Mr McCraw.
“The only thing stopping the hallway of dedicated officers from entering room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children,” he added.
Mr McCraw said the on-site commander — Pete Arredondo, who has said in interviews since the tragedy he did not believe he was in charge of the overall police response — had made “terrible decisions”.
“The officers had weapons, the children had none. The officers had body armour, the children had none. The officers had training, the subject had none,” he testified.

A photo collage of the 19 children and two teachers who lost their lives after an 18 year-old shooter opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on 24 May, 2022. Source: Twitter / @HoutsonHoochies

Mr Arredondo had claimed that the classroom door was locked, delaying their move on the attacker, but Mr McCraw told the inquiry that was not believed to be the case.

“He waited for a key that was never needed,” said the official.
Earlier this month, Miah Cerrillo, an 11-year-old girl at Robb Elementary, told a House of Representatives committee how she had made desperate calls to 911.
“I told her that we need help – and (we need) to see the police in our classroom,” said the fourth-grader.
Mr McCraw said the police response ran against lessons learned since the Columbine high school shooting that left 13 people dead in 1999.
“There’s compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure and antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre,” said Mr McCraw.

“Obviously, not enough training was done in this situation, plain and simple,” he added.

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