“There is compelling evidence that law enforcement’s response to the attack on Rob Elementary was a catastrophic failure and contrary to everything we’ve learned in the last two decades since the Columbine massacre,” Colonel Steven McGrath told the Texas Senate Special Committee. Protect all Texans.
“Three minutes after the object entered the western building, a sufficient number of armed officers were armed to isolate, divert and neutralize the subject,” he continued. “The only thing stopping the dedicated officers ‘corridor between rooms 111 and 112 is the scene commander who decided to put the officers’ lives before the lives of the children.”
It is not clear what happened within those 77 minutes because Texas officials provided conflicting descriptions of the response.
McCraw’s comments on Tuesday were the first time an official had provided important information about the shooting in weeks. He said the waiting results were contrary to the active-shooter protocol to stop the suspect quickly.
“The officers had weapons, the children had nothing. The officers had body armor, the children had nothing,” McGrath said. “The post-Columbine doctrine is clear and compelling and vague. Stop killing. Stop dying.”
The Department of Public Safety’s timeline states that within three minutes of the gunman entering the classroom, 11 officers arrived at the school, many with guns. The suspect then shot and wounded several officers who approached the classrooms and they retreated into a hallway outside the rooms. The team of officers then stayed on the sidewalk and did not approach the door for 73 minutes.
“While they were waiting, the scene commander was waiting for a radio and guns,” McGrath told Aradonto. “Then he waited for the shields. Then he waited for the SWAT. Finally, he waited for a key he would never need.”
For an hour the officers did not try to break down the door
However, according to law enforcement sources close to the investigation and report in the Tribune and American-Statesman, preliminary evidence suggests that no officers attempted to open the doors until just minutes before the shooting.
According to McGrath, the officers were not without weapons and equipment. However, around 11:40 a.m., shortly after the gunman opened fire on officers, Wolde called Aradonto by phone at the police station and asked for help and radio, the DPS transcript says.
An official also said that in the first minutes of their response, a fire extinguisher used to force entry was on display, according to the chronology. However, the timeline said the tool was not brought into the school and was never used until an hour after officers arrived.
A security picture obtained by an Austin American-statesman shows at least three officers in the hallway – two of them with guns and a tactical armor – at 11:52 a.m., 19 minutes after the gunman entered. School.
In all, officers approached four ballistic shields inside the school, the fourth of which came 30 minutes before officers attacked classrooms, the Tribune said, citing law enforcement transcripts.
An official, according to the US-Statesman, said they should act.
“If there are children, we should go there,” the official said. Another official replied, “It will be decided by whoever is in charge.”
At the end of the confrontation, Aradonto wondered aloud whether the authorities would consider “pushing him out the window”, according to law enforcement sources. The body camera transcript showed Arrotondo pointing to other officers at 12:46 pm that they should break down the door if the SWAT response team was ready, which came four minutes later.
Reporting comes after a lack of transparency
The report – citing three different news organizations and unnamed sources – highlights the lack of public transparency by Texas officials on such a significant incident. The report underscores his questions from Democratic Texas Senator Roland Guterres to CNN on Monday about why police did not attempt to break down doors quickly.
“We see that there are officers with enough weapons and enough equipment to break into that room,” he said. “I don’t understand why it didn’t happen and why they didn’t break the room.
“Those answers should be there. They should not be swayed in the media like this. The law enforcement agency should tell us what went wrong. It is a joke that we did not get that information. And itself.”
CNN contacted Arredondo’s lawyer George Hyde and the Uvalde Police Department to comment on the reports.
Arrotondo, who did not speak in public after the incident, said he would testify behind closed doors to the Texas House Committee investigating Tuesday’s shooting.
The new report further angered grieving families whose questions have not yet been answered.
“They have to be trained professionals,” Flores told police. “I do not understand why they are so reluctant to go back … It’s not fair to stand back for an hour and leave them inside with that gunman. This is cowardice, cowardice, cowardice.”
CNN’s Rosalina Nieves, Travis Caldwell and Dave Alsup contributed to the report.
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