- New surveillance footage reviewed by KVUE offers fresh insight into the response to Uvalde.
- Several armed officers waited at the school for more than an hour before entering the besieged classroom.
- Officers were armed with two rifles and a ballistic shield but still did not confront the shooter.
Several heavily armed police officers were inside Robb Elementary School for nearly an hour before entering the classroom where an 18-year-old gunman killed 21 people, including 19 children and two teachers, earlier this year, according to new surveillance footage.
The Austin American-Statesman and KVUE obtained new footage Monday from the May 24 scene showing several officers armed with rifles and at least one ballistic shield 19 minutes after the 18-year-old gunman entered the school. were in the building. But according to the outlet’s review of the video, those authorities waited nearly an hour more to enter the besieged classroom, even as children called 911 and begged for help.
The revelation throws another test into law enforcement’s much-criticized response to the tragedy that unfolded nearly a month ago in Uvalde, Texas. Local and state police came under scrutiny for the slow response, which saw officers wait more than 70 minutes to confront the shooter, as well as the authorities’ frequently changing history following the attack.
Eleven officers were at the school within three minutes after the gunman entered a classroom and began shooting around 11:33 a.m., according to footage reviewed by KVUE. After authorities entered the building, the gunman opened fire on responding officers, prompting them to run to either end of the hallway, according to The Texas Tribune. Moments later, precinct police chief Pete Arredondo called the Uvalde Police Department dispatch on his cell phone, according to The Tribune’s reconstructed timeline.
According to the outlet, surveillance footage shows at least two of the 11 officers at the school were carrying guns at the time. But when Arredondo spoke to the dispatcher, he said responding officers didn’t have enough firepower to confront the gunman.
Within a minute of the call beginning at 11:40 a.m., the gunman began firing again. But police inside the building eventually waited another hour and 10 minutes before finally entering the classroom at 12:50 p.m., according to the newspaper.
Body camera footage obtained by KVUE shows the officer with the first ballistic shield entered the building at 11:52 a.m. as other responding officers grew impatient.
An officer, who arrived about 20 minutes after the shooting began, immediately asked if there were any children inside, according to transcripts of body camera footage reviewed by The Tribune.
“If so, then they just have to go inside,” said a special agent with the Texas Department of Public Safety. Another official replied that it was not known if there were any children in the classroom.
“You don’t know if there are children in there?” said the first officer. “If there are children in there, we have to go in there.”
“Whoever is in charge will determine that,” someone replied.
According to KVUE, body camera footage indicates that while waiting, Arredondo tried to secure keys to open the adjoining classrooms. However, officials say they don’t believe officers ever tried to open the door, and no security footage from inside the building shows officers trying to open any of the doors to the adjacent classrooms, The Tribune reported.
Arredondo previously told the outlet that he tried to open one of the doors and other officers tried to open the other but found the door impenetrable.
A second ballistic shield entered the building at 12:03, followed shortly by a third. At around 12:20 p.m., Arredondo reportedly wondered aloud if officers could possibly shoot the shooter through the classroom windows.
SWAT officers arrived shortly thereafter and Arredondo told them at 12:46 p.m. to enter the classroom whenever they were ready, according to KVUE. The US Border Patrol tactical team eventually killed the gunman.