Uvalde police respond to “major failure”

Austin, Texas (AP) – Law enforcement officers had several officers at the scene of the Uvalde school massacre to stop the gunman three minutes after he entered the building, and never checked the classroom door to see if it was locked. Texas The chief security officer testified Tuesday, calling the police response a “major failure.”

Instead, police officers with rifles stood and waited for more than an hour before finally invading the classroom and killing the gunman, ending the May 24 attack that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

The classroom door, as it turned out, could not be locked from the inside, but there is no indication that police tried to open it while the gunman was in hiding, said Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Instead, he said, police were waiting for a key.

“I have every reason to believe that he was never insured,” McCroe said at the door. “How about testing the door and seeing if it is locked?”

McCraw presented a timetable stating that three officers with two rifles entered the building less than three minutes after the gunman, an 18-year-old with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Several more officers arrived a few minutes later.

The police decision to detain was contrary to much of what law enforcement has learned over the past two decades from the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado that left 13 people dead in 1999, McCraw said.

“You are not expecting a SWAT team. “You have an officer, that’s enough,” he said. He also said that officers do not have to wait for shields to enter the classroom. The first shield arrived less than 20 minutes after the shooter entered, according to McCraw.

McCrow testified at a State Senate hearing about 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 done in this situation, simple and straightforward. “Because terrible decisions were made by the local commander,” McCraw said of Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde school district police chief.

Eight minutes after the perpetrator entered the building, a police officer said police had a “hooligan” crowbar that they could use to break down a classroom door, McCrew said.

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

The head of public safety described to the committee a number of missed opportunities, communication failures and other errors, including:

– Arredondo did not have a radio with him.

– The police and sheriff’s radios did not work inside the school. Only the Border Patrol’s radio stations on stage worked inside the school, and even these did not work perfectly.

– Some school diagrams used by the police to coordinate their response were wrong.

State police initially said the gunman entered the school through an outside door opened by a teacher, but McCraw said the teacher had closed the door and could only be locked from the outside.

“There is no way he can tell the door is locked,” McCraw said. “It went straight through.”

Questions about the answer to law enforcement began days after the massacre. McCrew said three days after the shooting that Arendondo had made the “wrong decision” when he chose not to invade the classroom for more than 70 minutes, even when four-year-old students trapped in two classrooms were desperately calling 911 for help and distressed parents outside the school begged. officers to go inside.

Arredondo later said he did not consider himself responsible and assumed that someone else had taken control of the law enforcement response. Arredondo has repeatedly denied requests for comment to the Associated Press.

As for the time it took for officers to enter the classroom, McCraw said: “In an active sniper environment, this is unacceptable.”

“It simply came to our notice then. That’s what he did, “he said, referring to the Uvalde police response.

Police have not found anything that could be a red flag in the perpetrator’s school disciplinary records, but they learned through interviews that he indulged in animal cruelty. “He was walking with a bag of dead cats,” McCraw said.

In the days and weeks following the shooting, authorities made conflicting and inaccurate reports of what happened, sometimes withdrawing statements a few hours after they were fired. But McCraw assured lawmakers: “Everything I have tabled today is being confirmed.”

McCraw said that if he could make just one recommendation, it would be for more training. He also said a “sale” should be placed on every state patrol in Texas, including shield and door-breaking tools.

“I want every soldier to know how to break through and have the tools to do so,” he said.

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Bleiberg and Associated Press author Jamie Stengle contributed to this report from Dallas.

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Find more AP coverage of Uvalde school shootings: https://apnews.com/hub/uvalde-school-shooting

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