The details of the horrific massacre at a Texas elementary school continue to emerge, and it seems the more we learn the worse things look for the police who responded to the call.
Let me preface this by saying two things: First, we still don’t have all the details about the shooting in which an 18-year-old gunman killed 19 students and two teachers and wounded 17 other people at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Second, police have incredibly difficult jobs, requiring them to make split-second decisions while under enormous pressure under extremely dangerous and stressful situations.
That said, the latest news from the investigation into the shooting looks very bad for the law-enforcement officials responding to the scene. Tony Plohetski, an investigative reporter for the Austin-American Statesman tweeted a picture showing police stationed outside the classroom where more than a dozen children were murdered. The officers, armed with rifles and at least one ballistic shield, were in the hallway near the classroom at 11:52 a.m.—58 minutes before they breached the locked classroom, and 19 minutes after the gunman entered the school. At 12:03 p.m. a second officer with a ballistic shield arrived, followed by a third a few minutes later.
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.
— Tony Plohetski (@tplohetski) June 20, 2022
“Investigators believe this is significant because it indicates they had more than enough firepower and protection to enter the classroom before they did,” wrote Plohetski. “Officers were growing impatient far sooner: ‘If there’s kids in there we need to go in there,’ one said on body camera video.”
It’s not yet known who made the decision to stand down for nearly an hour while the assailant systematically executed the young children and their teachers, but Pete Arredondo, chief of the Uvalde school district police force, called the Uvalde Police Department—on a landline because he didn’t have a radio—at 11:40 a.m. requesting 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 firepower right now. It’s all pistols.” He then waited for the school janitor to bring him keys to the classroom, none of which worked, and then waited for backup to arrive.
All the while, terrified students were calling 911 for help. It would not come for more than an hour. By then, 19 students and two teachers were dead.
“The delayed response ran counter to widely accepted law enforcement protocol, developed from many similarly horrific school shootings nationwide, that calls for officers to stop the shooter promptly and resolutely,” the Statesman reported. “The delay in the Uvalde response raises questions about whether any lives could have been saved.”
The fact that police—even the ones equipped with tactical gear—dithered as their children were slaughtered will no doubt haunt the parents of these poor children for the rest of their lives.