Law enforcement response in Uvalde shooting was a ‘dismal failure’, official says

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June 21 (Reuters) – The law enforcement response to the Uvalde school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers was “an abject failure” in which a commander took the life of a officers before the children’s, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) director Steven McCraw said Tuesday.

During a Texas Senate hearing on the May 24 mass shooting, McCraw told lawmakers that “terrible decisions” were made by the on-scene commander and officers who responded to the scene had no not received enough training, which cost them valuable time that could have saved lives.

“There is compelling evidence that law enforcement’s response to the attack on Robb Elementary was an abject failure and contrary to everything we have learned,” McCraw said.

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Police actions after the shooter entered Robb Elementary School and began shooting have come under intense scrutiny, with many parents and relatives expressing deep anger at the response. Read more

Among the delays detailed by McCraw was finding a key to the classroom door where the shooting occurred. McGraw said police waited to enter while they searched for a key, despite the door not being locked and there being no evidence officers ever tried to see if she was secure.

“There’s no way to lock the door from the inside and there’s no way for the subject to lock the door from the inside,” McCraw said.

The Texas DPS, days after the shooting, said as many as 19 officers waited more than an hour in a hallway outside classrooms 111 and 112 before a US-led tactical team Border Patrol finally enters. McCraw reiterated that during Tuesday’s hearing.

“The officers had guns, the kids didn’t. The officers had body armor, the kids didn’t. The officers had training, the subject didn’t. One hour, 14 minutes and eight seconds – that’s how long the children waited, and the teachers waited, in room 111, to be rescued,” the DPS director said.

“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,” McCraw added.

“The only thing that kept a hallway of dedicated officers from entering rooms 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to put the lives of the officers before the lives of the children,” said the director during the hearing. Read more

McCraw said the scene commander, Uvalde Schools Police Chief Pete Arredondo, “waited for the radio and the guns, and he waited for the shields and he waited for the SWAT. Well, he waited a key that was never needed”.

Arredondo earlier this month said he never considered himself the incident commander at the scene of the shooting and did not order police to refrain from entering building. Read more

Arredondo told the Texas Tribune that he left his two radios outside of school because he wanted his hands free to hold his gun. He said he asked for tactical gear, a sniper and keys to get in, holding back from doors for 40 minutes to avoid provoking gunfire.

Members of the community as well as parents of the victims urged Arredondo to resign during a heated school board meeting on Monday, ABC News reported.

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Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington and Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Doina Chiacu, Paul Thomasch and Mark Porter

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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