June 28, 2022
The tragic law enforcement failures at the Uvalde, Texas, elementary school, where a crazed young man killed 19 students and two teachers, has brought a strong rebuke from the state’s director of public safety.
Last week, Col. Steven McCraw, head of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), testified before a state Senate committee, calling law enforcement response on May 24 at Robb Elementary School an “abject failure” and saying the Uvalde School police chief decided to “place the lives of officers before the lives of children.”
According to McCraw, school enforcement personnel arrived quickly but refused to enter the classroom where the killer was holed up—for a very long time. That runs directly counter to all of the training that enforcement agencies have received since the horrible mass murder at Columbine High School. Now, all are instructed to enter buildings and confront active shooters as quickly as possible to limit the body count.
“The officers had weapons; the children had none,” McCraw said. “The officers had body armor; the children had none. The officers had training; the subject had none. One hour, 14 minutes and 8 seconds. That’s how long children waited, and the teachers waited, in Room 111 to be rescued.”
While Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo had earlier told a state House committee that the door was locked, keeping quickly arriving officers from entering, other reports indicate that the lock was inoperable. In fact, according to McCaw, days before the shooting the teacher who taught in the conjoined classrooms 111 and 112 had mentioned to the school administration that the door would not lock.
“I have great reasons to believe it was never secured,” McCaw said. “How about trying the door and seeing if it's locked?”
Referring to Arredondo, McCaw told senators, “The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering Room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children.”
Arredondo has said he didn't consider himself the person in charge and assumed someone else had taken control of the law enforcement response. However, nobody else stepped up and took charge.
Just as bad as not entering the classroom and confronting the murderer, other law enforcement personnel who came and tried to enter the classroom were stopped from doing so.
“We’ve got an officer, Officer Ruiz, whose wife called in and said she’d been shot and she was dying,” McCraw told lawmakers. “What happened to him was he tried to move forward in the hallway. He was detained, and they took his gun away from him and escorted him off the scene.”
In further testimony, McCaw said officers did not need to wait for shields to enter the classroom. The first shied arrived less than 20 minutes after the shooter entered.
He also said that eight minutes after the shooter entered, an officer reported that police had a heavy-duty crowbar that they could use to break down the classroom door.
“You don’t wait for a SWAT team,” McCaw stressed. “You have one officer, that’s enough.”
While the investigation into the LE response to the horrible mass murder is likely to continue for quite some, hopefully other law enforcement personal throughout the country will learn from the missteps made during the Uvalde fiasco and do a better job should similar attacks occur in their jurisdictions in the future.
About the Author
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20 years.