New footage sheds light on police response during Uvalde massacre
Surveillance and police body-cam footage obtained by media outlets has provided greater insight into law enforcement’s reaction to the Uvalde school shooting in May, which left 19 children and two teachers dead. Despite arriving in force moments after the attack began, officers waited 74 minutes to take on the gunman.
Published on Tuesday by the Austin American-Statesman and a local ABC affiliate, the video captures the shooting from beginning to end, including the moment the assailant entered Robb Elementary School armed with a rifle.
“The video tells in real time the brutal story of how heavily armed officers failed to immediately launch a cohesive and aggressive response to stop the shooter and save more children if possible,” according to the Statesman.
In addition to a shorter edited version of the new footage, the Statesman also published a longer video capturing the entire incident. The videos do not show any scenes of violence, though volleys of gunfire can be heard in both.
Despite arriving at the school just “minutes after the gunman,” police are seen gathered at the end of a hall inside the building for the majority of the footage, apparently planning their approach even as dozens of gunshots continued to ring out from a classroom. Though a large force of heavily armed officers showed up on scene not long after, they remained in the hallway at a distance from the shooter for more than one hour.
Police say they were looking for keys to the classroom before attempting to force entry, but investigators later determined the room was not locked. It’s unclear what explains the discrepancy, or whether officers made any attempt to open the door as they waited.
According to Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw, the commanding officer at the scene, school district Police Chief Pete Arredondo, treated the gunman as a “barricaded subject,” rather than an active shooter. The latter scenario typically calls for a highly aggressive response to prevent the further loss of life, as opposed to the slower and more cautious approach for a holed-up suspect.
While McCraw has placed a large amount of blame on Arredondo for the failure to confront the shooter, the video footage shows a variety of police agencies responding to the incident, including the Uvalde Police Department, Uvalde County Sheriff’s Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Rangers, US Border Patrol, and US Marshals Service. Until they ultimately breached the classroom one hour and 14 minutes into the rampage, no officers made a rescue attempt.
The behavior of law enforcement during the May 24 massacre has stoked intense public criticism, including from the parents of slain children, some of whom could be seen in videos pleading with officers to be allowed to enter the school to save their little ones.