Texas‘ Director of Public Safety broke down in tears as he admitted 19 cops stood outside the classroom where the gunman in Tuesday’s shooting had his victims trapped and did nothing because they thought everyone inside was dead, despite ongoing 911 calls from inside from children begging for help.
Col. Steven McCraw made the admission at a press conference on Friday where he said it was ‘the wrong decision’ and came as the result of the Chief of the Uvalde School District Police Department Pete Arredondo mistakenly believing all of the kids in the classroom had already been killed.
Police say they thought that every shot the gunman fired after that was aimed at the door and designed to keep them at bay.
‘The incident commander thought at that time there was no more children at risk. Obviously there were children that were at risk,’ he said.
It remains unconfirmed how many children died while those 19 cops stood outside the classroom door. McCraw also revealed at the press conference;
- The gunman fired more than 100 rounds after at 11.33am within seconds of walking into the school
- He had purchased 1,000 rounds of ammo in total and been talking about buying guns for months
- In March, he asked his sister to help him buy a gun and she ‘flatly refused’ but it’s unclear if he was reported
- In May, he spoke about school shootings with friends on Instagram and on May 14 he wrote: ’10 more days, you’ll see’
- The shooter’s final shots were fired at 12.21pm and it’s unclear if those were at kids or at the door
- Children who were trapped inside the classroom made seven 911 calls in the hour that they were trapped, begging for help
- There was no resource officer at the scene but one arrived within seconds of hearing the first 911 call. He however didn’t see the gunman hiding between cars in the parking lot and drove right past him
- The gunman was able to get into the school because a teacher had propped open a door
Ramos entered the classroom and locked the door at 11.34am. In the first few minutes, he fired more than 100 shots inside classrooms 111 and 112.
He carried on shooting ‘sporadically’ until 12.21pm, and it wasn’t until 12.50pm that police eventually gained access to the classrooms with a key from the janitor.
‘With the benefit of hindsight, from where I am sitting now – of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision. There is no excuse,’ McCraw said.
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Col. Steven McCgraw cried as he admitted it was the ‘clearly the wrong decision’. Police still do not know whether the shooter’s victims were killed before or after police arrived at the scene.=
Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Chief Pete Arredondo was in charge and mistakenly thought there were no other kids alive in the room once the shooter had barricaded himself inside
He latter sobbed as he said he and other police officers ‘take an oath to protect people’ but failed. ‘We want to know why this happened and know if we can do better next time,’ he said.
Arredondo, whose decision it was not to advance because he thought all of the kids had died, was not at the press conference to answer questions and it remains unconfirmed if he was even inside the school at the time of the shooting.
There was no school resource officer there when the shooter opened fire, contrary to previous reports from the police that he engaged in a shootout with the gunman.
Instead, a school resource officer who was nearby and heard the first 911 call about the gunman crashing his truck rushed to the scene.
They however drove directly past the gunman when he hid between cars in the parking lot.
Instead, the school resource officer went to the back of the building and confronted a male teacher, mistaking him for the gunman.
In the meantime, Salvador Ramos started advancing on the school, firing at classrooms.
He then walked through an unlocked front door which was propped open by a teacher who had gone to retrieve their phone a minute before he arrived.
While those officers stood inside waiting and he was shooting, parents were being put in handcuffs outside and held back from entering the school.
The police response is now under investigation.
Earlier, Department of Safety Lt. Chris Olivarez made the astonishing comments during an appearance on CNN last night.
He was being challenged by Wolf Blitzer over why the first officers who responded to the shooting retreated after Salvador Ramos shot at them with his AR-15 and then waited an hour for tactical SWAT teams to take him out, leaving him alone in a classroom with the 19 fourth graders and two teachers who he slaughtered.
TIMELINE OF UVALDE SCHOOL KILLING INCLUDING 911 CALLS AND HOW COPS WAITED OUTSIDE
11.28am: Gunman crashes truck, gets out of car with AR-15
He is seen by witnesses in a funeral home next to the school who tell 911 they see a man with a gun walking towards the school
11.31: Gunman is now in the parking lot of the school hiding in between vehicles, shooting at the building
11.32: School resource officer who arrives in a patrol car after hearing 911 call about truck crash drives past the shooter
11.33: Gunman enters the school and begins shooting into room 111/room 112. He shoots more than 100 rounds
11.35: Three police officers enter the same propped-open door as the suspect from the Uvalde PD. They were later followed by another four, making total of seven officers on scene
Three initial officers went directly to the door and got grazing wounds from him while the door was closed. They hang back
11.37: Another 16 rounds fired inside the classroom by the gunman
11.51: Police sergeant and USB agents arrive
12.03: Officers continue to arrive in the hallway. As many as 19 officers in that hallway at that time
At the same time, a girl from inside the classroom calls 911 and whispers that she is in room 112
12.10pm: The same girl calls back and advises ‘there are multiple dead’
12.13pm: The same girl calls again
12.16pm: The same girl calls 911 for the fourth time in 13 minutes asking for help
12.15pm: BORTAC (SWAT) members arrive with shields
12.16pm: The same unidentified girl calls 911 and says there are ‘8-9 students alive’ in classroom 112
12.19pm: A different child from classroom 111 calls. She hangs up when another student tells her to in order to be quiet
12.21pm: Gunman fires again
12.26pm: One of the girls who previously called 911 calls back again. She says the shooter has just ‘shot at the door’
12.43pm: The girl on that girl is still on the line. She says “please send the police now”
12.50pm: Police finally breach the door using keys from the janitor and kill gunman
12.51pm Officers start moving children out of the room
‘Don’t current best practices, Lieutenant, call for officers to disable a shooter as quickly as possible, regardless of how many officers are actually on site?’ Blitzer asked.
He replied: ‘In the active shooter situation, you want to stop the killing, you want to preserve life. But also one thing that, of course, the American people need to understand is that officers are making entry into this building. They do not know where the gunman is. They are hearing gunshots. They are receiving gunshots.’
He then appeared to try to take credit for the gunman being locked in the classroom with the kids for an hour – including some he shot at the start of the rampage who later died in the hospital – claiming it saved other lives.
Police initially said that the gunman barricaded himself inside the classroom and that they had trouble gaining access to the room, and one unnamed law official anonymously spoke out to say SWAT teams had to wait for a different school staff member to bring them a key to the class.
‘At that point, if they proceeded any further not knowing where the suspect was at, they could’ve been shot, they could’ve been killed, and at that point that gunman would have had an opportunity to kill other people inside that school.
‘So they were able to contain that gunman inside that classroom so that he was not able to go to any other portions of the school to commit any other killings,’ Lt. Olivarez said.
Scores of Border Patrol agents also rushed to the scene after hearing the incident unfold on scanners. When they arrived, the Uvalde Police Department also told them not to go inside, according to a law enforcement official who spoke anonymously to The New York Times.
Eventually, the agents joined parents and a handful of local police officers in pulling kids through windows from other classrooms.
The agents did not understand why they were being told not to go inside when the gunman was still in the building.
Experts have slammed the decision to wait for back up as ‘outdated’ and ‘disgusting’.
‘Waiting an hour is disgusting. If that turns out to be true, then it is a disgusting fact,’ Sean Burke, a retired school resource officer from Massachusetts who now is the president of the School Safety Advocacy Council, told NBC.
‘If you’ve got somebody you think is actively engaged in harming people or attempting to harm people, your obligation as a police officer is to immediately stop that person and neutralize that threat.
‘We don’t expect police officers to commit suicide in doing it.
‘But the expectation is that if someone is about to harm someone, especially children, you’ve got to take immediate action to make that stop,’ Don Alwes, an ex-instructor for the National Tactical Officers Association, added.
Surgeons at the hospital in Uvalde have also suggested that the delay in responding to the shooting may have cost some kids their lives.
It remains unclear exactly how many children were in the classroom when the shooter opened fire, how many were killed immediately and how many were still alive but injured when police arrived.
Uvalde Memorial Hospital received two kids who had died by the time they got to the hospital.
Now, doctors are highlighting the importance of treating gunshot wounds as soon as they happen.
‘You can’t wait until patients go to a trauma center.
US Border Patrol agents were among the hundreds who responded to the shooting but when they got there, the local police department told them not to advance
This is how the shooting played out over the course of nearly two hours from when Ramos killed his grandmother at home. He arrived at the school at 11.28am and the first 911 calls were made. He then walked unobstructed into the building with his AR-15 and headed towards the classroom. He fought off cops at 11.44am, then was left alone in the room with the victims until around 12.44pm – when SWAT arrived. The incident was declared over at 1.06pm
‘You have to act quickly,’ Dr. Ronald Stewart, the senior trauma surgeon at the University Hospital in Antonio, said.
He added that uncontrolled bleeding was the top cause of deaths among gun shot wound victims and that it can happen in as little as five minutes.
Since the Columbine shooting in 1999, officers across the nation have been advised not to wait for backup and to proceed into the school to find the shooter.
Instructions from the Texas Police Chiefs Association says: ‘The first two to five responding officers should form a single team and enter the structure.’
Why that advice was ignored in Uvalde is among the many aspects of the slow response that are now under investigation.
Another is why police falsely claimed at first that the shooter exchanged gunfire with a school resource officer before he even made it to the classroom.
On Thursday night, Olivarez said that was the information police received.
Video shows Texas cops holding down a parent outside Robb Elementary School on Tuesday while a shooting unfolded inside
The girl explained she wasn’t hurt and the blood was from her best friend ‘Amerie.’ It was then that Angel Garza (above) realized the blood he was looking at came from his own daughter
‘So that’s information that we received early on in this investigation.
‘The Texas Rangers are now conducting interviews with those officers trying to establish exactly what was their role, and that will help us establish a more factual, concrete timeline,’ he said.
There is growing anger and frustrating among parents who were pepper sprayed, pinned to the ground and even placed in handcuffs.
‘The police were doing nothing,’ Angeli Rose Gomez told the Wall Street Journal.
‘They were just standing outside the fence. They weren’t going in there or running anywhere.’
Gomez has two children in second and third grade and she reportedly drove 40 miles to the school after hearing of the attack.
She was one of the desperate parents who encouraged police with increasing urgency to enter the school.
Eventually, federal marshals put Gomez in handcuffs and told her she was under arrest for intervening in an active investigation, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Gomez said she was able to convince a Uvalde officer whom she knew to have the marshal free her and she took the opportunity to move away from the crowd, jump the school fence, and ran inside the school where she rescued her children herself.
She said that other parents also trying to get to their kids were tackled and even pepper-sprayed by police.
Angel Garza, whose daughter was killed, was handcuffed after trying to run into the school when he heard that a ‘girl called Amerie’ had been shot.
Garza later told his heartbreaking story to Anderson Cooper.
He explained that when he arrived on the scene he tried to help a young girl covered in blood, because he is a trained medic.
The girl explained she wasn’t hurt and the blood was from her best friend ‘Amerie.’
It was then that Angel realized the blood he was looking at came from his own daughter. He later found out that she was among those who died.