- New surveillance footage reviewed by KVUE provides new insight into the shooting action in Uvalde.
- Several armed officers waited in 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 engage the gunman.
Multiple heavily armed police officers were at Robb Elementary School for nearly an hour before entering the classroom where an 18-year-old gunman had killed 21 people earlier this year, including 19 children and two teachers, according to new surveillance footage.
The Austin American-Statesman and KVUE obtained new footage Monday of the May 24 scene showing several officers armed with rifles and at least one ballistic shield inside the building, 19 minutes after the 18-year-old gunman entered the school. . But according to the outlet’s review of the video, those authorities waited nearly another hour to enter the beleaguered classroom, even as kids called 911 begging for help.
The revelation throws a closer look at the much-criticized law enforcement response to the tragedy that unfolded in Uvalde, Texas, nearly a month ago. Local and state police have come under scrutiny for the slow response, with officers having to wait more than 70 minutes to confront the gunman, as well as the authorities’ often-changing narrative in the wake of the attack.
Eleven officers were inside the school within three minutes of the gunman, who had entered a classroom and started shooting at around 11:33 am, according to footage reviewed by KVUE. After authorities entered the building, the gunman opened fire on the responding officers, forcing them to run to both ends of the hallway, according to The Texas Tribune. Moments later, Pete Arredondo, the district police chief, called the Uvalde Police Department’s message on his cellphone, according to The Tribune’s reconstructed timeline.
According to the outlet, surveillance footage shows that at least two of the 11 officers in the school were carrying guns at the time. But when Arredondo spoke to the dispatcher, he said the responding officers did not have enough firepower to confront the gunman.
Within a minute of the start of the 11:40 am call, the gunman started firing again. But police in the building ended up waiting another hour and 10 minutes before finally entering the classroom at 12:50 p.m., the paper said.
Body-camera images obtained by KVUE show the officer with the first ballistic shield entering the building at 11:52 a.m. while other responding officers grew impatient.
An officer who arrived about 20 minutes after the shooting started immediately asked if there were any children inside, according to transcripts of body camera images reviewed by The Tribune.
“If so, they should just go in,” said a special agent for the Texas Department of Public Safety. Another officer replied that it was not known if there were any children in the class.
“You don’t know if there are children?” said the first officer. “If there are children, we have to go in there.”
“Whoever’s in charge decides that,” someone replied.
According to KVUE, body camera images suggest that while waiting, Arredondo tried to obtain keys to open the adjacent classrooms. However, officials say they do not believe officers ever attempted to open the door, and no security footage from inside shows officers trying to open either door to adjacent classrooms, The Tribune reported.
Arredondo previously told the outlet that he had tried to open one of the doors and that other officers had tried the other, but the door was impenetrable.
A second ballistic shield entered the building at 12:03 a.m., followed shortly by a third. At around 12:20 p.m., Arredondo reportedly wondered aloud whether officers could shoot the gunman through the classroom windows.
SWAT agents arrived shortly after, and Arredondo told them at 12:46 p.m. to enter the classroom when ready, KVUE said. The US Border Patrol tactical team eventually killed the gunman.