Several police officers stood in a Robb Elementary School hallway armed with rifles and at least one ballistic shield within 19 minutes of a gunman arriving on campus, according to documents reviewed by the American-Statesman, a devastating new revelation that delves into questions about why the police didn’t act faster to stop the shooter who killed 19 children and two teachers last month.
Even as officers with high-powered weapons and ballistic shields crowded into the blue and green corridor, the gunman could be heard firing bullets, even at 12:21 pm, 29 minutes before the officers entered the courtroom and killed.
Investigators say the latest information indicates that the agents had more than enough firepower and protection to take down the gunman long before they finally did.
Authorities have produced the most extensive timeline since the 18-year-old armed with an AR-15 entered the Uvalde school on May 24, shattering a southern Texas city and reigniting the nationwide weapons debate.
Moreover:How Governor Greg Abbott was first “misled” about the Uvalde shooting, then took liberties
Much of the new information is expected to be unveiled Tuesday in a Texas Senate hearing, the first of two consecutive days of hearings on the Capitol that will offer members of the public the first opportunity to address lawmakers on gun violence and related issues.
The law enforcement response was scrutinized by state and federal investigators shortly after the massacre. On May 27, Texas Department of Public Security Director Steve McCraw revealed that officers waited more than 70 minutes to confront the killer, even though fourth-grade students trapped inside two classrooms were desperately calling. emergency health services. The delayed response was contrary to the widely accepted protocol of law enforcement, developed by many equally horrific school shootings nationwide, which requires officers to stop the killer promptly and resolutely. The delay in Uvalde’s response raises doubts that lives could have been saved.
The latest timeline shows that the agents finally broke down a classroom door at 12:50 pm; the shooter had entered at 11:33 am
Authorities reconstructed the events of May 24 using footage from inside the school, which showed the gunman casually entering through a back door, walking to a classroom and immediately firing gunshots before barricading himself. The timeline was also constructed using camera video of the body of more than a dozen officers within the school.
Grieving, traumatized and demanding action:A survivor of Uvalde, his parents testify at the US House hearing
According to new information, 11 officers entered the school within three minutes of the gumman. Pete Arredondo, police chief of the Uvalde School District, called a landline phone at the Uvalde Police Department at 11:40 am for help.
“It’s an emergency right now,” he said. “We have it in the room. He has an AR-15. He shot a lot. … They need to be prepared outside the building because we don’t have firepower right now, “he said.” They’re all guns.
“I don’t have a radio,” he added. “I need you to bring me a radio.”
Four minutes later, at 11:44 am, camera footage of the body detected more shots of the gunman.
At 11:52 am, an officer with the first ballistic shield entered the school as the other officers became increasingly impatient.
“If there are children in there, we have to go there,” said one officer.
Another replied: “Whoever is in charge will determine it.”
A transcript of the camera footage of the agents’ bodies showed Arredondo was trying to find the keys to open the classroom door, although officials say they don’t believe the agents tried to open the door.
At 12:03 an officer with another ballistic shield entered the school and a third arrived two minutes later.
The new information shows that Arredondo also tried to talk to the gunman, asking him if he could hear him.
About 30 minutes before the breach, Arredondo wondered aloud if the agents would consider “throwing him out the window? Do you have two shooters on either side of the window? I tell them to break into those windows and shoot (expletive) him in the head through the windows.
At 12:46 pm, the timeline indicates that Arredondo told the SWAT team officers that they had arrived that they would have to break down the classroom door if they were ready.
By then the medical units had arrived and the footage shows them caring for children in the corridor after the gunman’s death.
The hearings will not address the restriction of firearms
The agenda of the two Senate committee hearings does not include any mention of restricting access to firearms, and Republican leaders of the state have insisted that gun restrictions will be banned as lawmakers respond to the shooting.
The Senate Special Commission for the Protection of All Texans, recently formed at the request of Governor Greg Abbott, will hear invited witnesses and public testimony on three issues at Tuesday’s hearing: school safety, police training and social media.
On Wednesday, the committee of eight Republicans and three Democrats will address mental health and firearms safety.
Both hearings will begin at 9 am in the Senate chamber, with public testimony limited to two minutes per speaker.
State Senator Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, chairman of the committee, said he plans to cast a “broad net” to examine a complex issue and develop recommendations for submission to the entire Senate.
“These hearings are intended to be a forum for solid discussion on solutions to the pervasive problem of tragic school shootings,” he said. “I recognize that there will be no single solution to these problems, and it is my hope that the work of this committee will reflect that.”
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who chairs the Texas Senate, chose a traditional committee structure after Abbott called for special committees to investigate the Uvalde shooting and lead the lawmaker’s response. In addition to the GOP chairman, Patrick has chosen two fellow Republicans to serve as vice presidents: Senator Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham and Brandon Creighton of Conroe.
Private meeting of the House Committee
Across the Capitol Rotunda, House Speaker Dade Phelan, R-Beaumont, took a different path, creating a three-member special committee with a Republican president, Democratic vice president, and former Supreme Court judge. Texas Eva Guzman, a Republican.
This committee has held four hearings – including three in the Municipal Council Chambers in Uvalde – but conducts its business in private, listening to witnesses in the executive session.
Moreover:Top Texas House Republican Launches Mental Health Response to Uvalde
Some Uvalde residents have questioned that approach, particularly after the initial depictions of the shooting by law enforcement and Abbott were inaccurate or incomplete.
Speaking at the meeting on Friday in Uvalde, the chairman of the committee, Representative Dustin Burrows, said he was approached by a concerned resident after his committee visited Robb Elementary School, where the shooting took place, that morning.
Burrows, R-Lubbock, said witnesses are more comfortable answering questions with no cameras present, which promotes the committee’s main goal: a full and accurate account of what happened during the 24 attack. May.
“Before this committee is willing to announce what we believe to be factual and accurate information, we want to hear from all sides, all different points of view,” he said before the room was cleared so that two police officers school district and two teachers from Robb Elementary could be questioned privately.
In previous meetings, the committee heard senior officials from the Public Security Department, Uvalde police, teachers and district officials, including the school superintendent and principal. Wednesday’s meeting will also take place in private.
Moreover:Uvalde shooting survivor Miah Cerrillo, 11, tells Congressional committee about the shooting
Two other House committees will meet later this week at the Capitol for a joint hearing – with invited witnesses only – to review laws and policies put in place after eight students and two teachers were shot dead by fire at Santa Fe High School in 2018.
Other topics include improving firearm safety, reviewing active shooter response training, and coordinating agencies to better prevent and respond to mass shootings.
The hearing will begin Thursday at 10am with the Homeland Security Committee and the Chamber’s Select Committee on Youth Health and Safety, which was expanded following the Uvalde shooting with lawmakers whose districts include the locations of the recent shootings. mass: El Paso, Sutherland Springs, Odessa, Santa Fe and Uvalde.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that officers were standing in a Robb elementary corridor 19 minutes after a gunman entered the school.