A Texas state Senate hearing about the May 24 Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas revealed new information on Tuesday, including that cops never actually checked the classroom door behind which the gunman carried out his massacre. The door was ultimately not locked, despite officials saying it was and blaming the delayed response on waiting for a key.
On Tuesday, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Col. Steve McCraw asserted during testimony that Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Department Chief Pete Arredondo waited for a key to the classroom “that was never needed.”
McCraw added that surveillance video showed officers never put a hand on the door, officers who ultimately breached the classroom said they never tried to open the door handle beforehand, and it was later determined the door couldn’t even be locked from the inside.
Arredondo had said he and his team spent 40 minutes in the hallway outside the room waiting for tactical gear, a sniper and keys to get inside. He also said he eventually tried dozens of keys on the locked classroom door.
McCraw doubled-down on his previous assertion that Arredondo was, in fact, the on-scene commander, despite Arredondo’s claims that he was not in charge. McCraw added that the police could’ve ended the shooting three minutes after the gunman entered the school.
“Three minutes after the suspect entered the west building, there was a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, cistract, and neutralize the subject,” he said. “The only thing stopping a 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.”
“The officers had weapons, the children had none. The officers had body armor, the children had none,” McCraw added.
“There is 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.”
New photos released late Monday also show officers armed with rifles and at least one ballistic shield were inside Robb Elementary school almost one hour before they entered the classroom where a gunman fatally shot 19 children and two teachers last month.
The photos were taken from surveillance footage that was exclusively obtained by KVUE and its partner news organization the Austin American-Statesman.
“Multiple officers were inside Robb Elementary School with rifles and at least one ballistic shield at 11:52 a.m. the day of the shooting, new video and other evidence shows. They didn’t enter the classroom for another 58 minutes,” reporter Tony Plohetski tweeted.
“Investigators believe this is significant because it indicates they had more than enough firepower and protection to enter the classroom before they did. Officers were growing impatient far sooner: ‘If there’s kids in there we need to go in there,’ one said on body camera video,” Plohetski added in a separate tweet.
Veteran and journalist Jack Posobiec shared another photo from inside the school during the shooting.
The latest information indicates that 11 officers entered the school just three minutes after the gunman. The officers are seen with rifles and a ballistic shield 19 minutes after the gunman arrived, but they took another 58 minutes to enter the classroom. Officials have so far determined that the gunman entered the classroom at 11:33 a.m., whereas officers breached the classroom at 12:50 p.m.
At 11:40, Arredondo reportedly the Uvalde Police Department for backup.
“It’s an emergency right now,” he said. “We have him in the room. He’s got an AR-15. He’s shot a lot … They need to be outside the building prepared because we don’t have fire power right now,” he said. “It’s all pistols.”