Texas officer says Uvalde classroom lock was unlocked while police waited for a key during massacre

The door to a classroom where the Uvalde school shooter was holed up was unlocked while police looked for a key to get inside, a top Texas official said Tuesday, describing law enforcement’s response on Tuesday. it was done. as a “gross failure”.

Texas Department of Public Safety director Steve McCraw’s admission, made at a state Senate committee hearing investigating last month’s mass murder, was another surprising addition. list of failures He has admitted since the shooting of Robb Elementary School.

“We know this, there is strong evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack on Robb Elementary was a blatant failure and is contrary to what we have learned in the past two decades since the Columbine massacre,” he told lawmakers. Said to in Austin.

McCraw clearly stated that the lives of police officers were given more importance than those of children because of the gunfights that took place on May 24 at that South Texas compound.

“The only thing blocking the hallways 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,” he said.

“The officers had weapons, the children had none. The officers had body armor, the children had none. The officers had training, the subjects had none.”

It’s been almost a month since the gunman, 18-year-old Salvador Rolando Ramos, broke into Rob’s Elementary School. 19 children and two teachers murdered,

The massacre ended more than an hour after it began, when a border patrol tactical unit eventually broke into the classroom where the gunman was hiding and killed him.

According to McCraw, the gunman crashed his truck near the school at 11:28 a.m. that day, he entered the campus at 11:33 a.m.

“And he starts shooting…more than 100 rounds Was fired initially,” he said.

Much of the focus following the shooting has been on the response of local law enforcement and decisions made by Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo.

McCraw, in painstaking detail, went on to explain minute by minute how police could enter the open room where the shooter was.

In the early days after the shooting, it was widely reported that police had been barred from entering classrooms and were searching for keys as the doors were closed.

McCraw Recently published report confirmed That the surrounding classrooms are only closed from the outside, so the shooter or anyone else could have entered.

“There is no way to lock the door from the inside and no way for the subject to close the door from the inside,” he said.

According to McCraw, there were 11 police officers at the school at 11:36 a.m.—three minutes after the gunman entered the campus and could be confronted.

State Sen. Paul Bettencourt said, “When I read this timeline I changed from sad to disappointed to straight out of anger because it is a complete, complete stop of any command and control.” “It’s a textbook example of this.”

McCraw, Texas’ top law enforcement officer, was saddened by the long wait before officers confronted the killer.

“An hour, 14 minutes and 8 seconds. How long did the children wait and the teachers waited to be rescued in rooms 111 (and 112),” he said. “And while they waited, the on-scene commander was waiting for the radios and rifles; and he was waiting for the shield and he was waiting for the SWAT.”

Later at the hearing, an angry McCraw said that even officers who were completely unprepared for duty should have been sent to attack Ramos.

“I don’t care if you have flip-flops on and wear Bermuda shorts, it doesn’t matter, you go in,” McCraw said.

Since the attack on two students Columbine High School in Colorado In 1999, when police waited nearly an hour for the SWAT team to enter the building, law enforcement stressed the urgency of engaging the shooter.

“After all, he waited for a key that was never needed,” McCraw said. “The post-Columbine principle is clear and compelling and unambiguous: stop killing, stop dying. You can’t do the latter until you do the former.”

And there’s no evidence that officers at the scene were ever asked to check the door handle to see if it might have been open, according to McCraw, who used the voice’s near-joke. Missed in tone.

“How about trying the door on and see if it’s unlocked. That’s what we used to call the ‘clue,'” he said. “Why not? Of course no one had.”

At 12:21 a.m., a fourth shield arrived at the scene, at the same time four shots were fired from inside the classroom — but still no action from outside police, McCraw said.

He said this was another point when the police should have stopped looking at the situation as a suspicious suspect.

“So if it’s a barricading topic, why is he still firing?” McCraw asked rhetorically.

Arredondo knew that there were several deaths at that very moment, but he clearly feared that the provocative police action could lead to more bloodshed.

“We’ve lost two kids, these walls are thin. He starts shooting, we’re going to lose more kids,” McCraw said, quoting Arredondo from the body camera audio transcript. “‘I have to say we have to put them on the sidelines for now.'”

The embattled Arredondo whose works are under review by both state and federal officials Has kept a remarkably low profile since the shoot.

But he pushed back the criticism, Texas Tribune is telling A story published earlier this month said its officers had no way of confronting the gunman.

A lawyer for Arredondo could not immediately be contacted for comment on Tuesday.

Just before the shooting, Arredondo had won the election to the Uvalde City Council.

The city council is due to meet on Tuesday evening and is set to address a motion calling for Arredondo to be granted a leave of absence.