“There is compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack on Robb Elementary was an abject failure and contrary to everything we have learned in the past two decades since the Columbine massacre,” he said. Colonel Steven McCraw told the Texas Senate Special Committee. Protect all Texans.
“Three minutes after the subject entered the West Building, there were a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract and incapacitate the subject,” he continued. “The only thing stopping the Corridor of Dedicated Officers from entering Rooms 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to put the lives of the officers ahead of the lives of the children.”
What happened during those 77 minutes has remained unclear, as Texas officials have offered conflicting accounts of the response.
McCraw’s comments on Tuesday represent the first time an official has provided substantive information about the shooting in weeks. He said the decisions to wait contradicted active shooter protocol to arrest the suspect as quickly as possible.
“The officers had guns, the kids didn’t. The officers had body armor, the kids didn’t,” McCraw said. “The post-Columbine doctrine is clear, compelling, and unambiguous. Stop killing. Stop dying.”
The Public Safety Department’s schedule showed that 11 officers arrived at the school, several with guns, within three minutes of the shooter entering classrooms. The suspect then shot and injured several officers who approached the classrooms, and they retreated to a hallway outside the classrooms. The group of officers then remained in the hallway and did not approach the door for another 73 minutes.
“As they waited, the commander on the scene was waiting for a radio and guns,” McCraw said, referring to Arredondo. “Then he waited for shields. Then he waited for SWAT. Finally he waited for a key that was never needed.”
Officers did not attempt to force the doors open for over an hour
Still, preliminary evidence suggests that none of the officers attempted to open either door until moments before shooting the gunman, according to a law enforcement source close to the investigation and reported. in the Tribune and American-Statesman.
The officers were not without weapons and equipment, according to McCraw. However, at 11:40 a.m., Arredondo called Uvalde Police Department dispatch by phone shortly after the shooter fired on officers and requested additional assistance and a radio, according to a DPS transcript.
Within minutes of their response, an officer also said a Halligan, a firefighting tool used for forcible entry, was at the scene, according to the timeline. However, the tool was not brought into the school until an hour after officers arrived and was never used, according to the timeline.
A security image obtained by the US statesman from Austin shows at least three officers in the hallway – two of whom have rifles and one who appears to have a tactical shield – at 11:52 a.m., 19 minutes after the shooter entered the school.
In total, officers had access to four ballistic shields inside the school, the fourth of which arrived 30 minutes before officers stormed the classrooms, the Tribune said, citing a transcript of the law enforcement.
One officer, according to the American statesman, said something had to be done.
“If there are children in there, we have to go,” the officer said. Another officer replied, “Whoever is in charge will determine that.”
Toward the end of the standoff, according to the law enforcement source, Arredondo wondered aloud if officers would consider “throwing him out the window.” A body camera transcript showed Arredondo telling other officers at 12:46 p.m. that if a SWAT response team was ready, they should come through the door, an action that took place four minutes later.
Reporting comes after lack of transparency
The report — in three different news outlets and citing unnamed sources — highlights the lack of transparency Texas officials have with the public in such a critical incident. Texas Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat, told CNN on Monday that the reports underscored his questions about why police hadn’t tried to force the doors down sooner.
“We see that there (are) officers with adequate ammunition, adequate equipment to be able to enter this room,” he said. “I just don’t understand why it didn’t happen, why they didn’t come into the room.
“Those answers need to be gotten. They shouldn’t be going through the media like that. We should be asking law enforcement to tell us exactly what went wrong. And the fact that we’re not getting those information is only a parody in and of itself.”
CNN has contacted both Arredondo’s attorney, George Hyde, and the Uvalde Police Department regarding the reports.
Arredondo, who has not spoken in a public capacity since the incident, will testify behind closed doors before a Texas House committee investigating the shooting on Tuesday, the committee said.
The new report has further angered grieving families whose questions remain unanswered.
“They’re supposed to be trained professionals,” Flores said of the police. “I don’t understand the reason why they backed up so long to get them in… Backing off a whole hour, leaving them inside with that shooter, that’s not right. It’s loose, loose, loose .”
CNN’s Rosalina Nieves, Travis Caldwell and Dave Alsup contributed to this report.