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Armed officer saw gunman enter Texas school before massacre, review shows

Armed officer saw gunman enter Texas school before massacre, review shows

A police officer armed with a rifle saw the gunman in the massacre at Uvalde Primary School go towards campus, but did not shoot while waiting for permission from a supervisor to shoot, according to extensive criticism published on Wednesday about the tactical response to the massacre in May.

Some of the 21 victims at Robb Elementary School, including 19 children, “could probably have been rescued” on May 24. They had received medical help earlier while police waited more than an hour before breaking into the fourth-grade classroom, a review of a training session center at Texas State University for active shooting situations found.

The report is yet another condemnatory assessment of how the police failed to act on opportunities that may have saved lives in what became the deadliest school shooting in the United States since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

“A sensible officer would have considered this an active situation and drawn up a plan to address the suspect,” was the report published by the university’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Program.

The authors of the 26-page report said their findings were based on video taken from the school, police cameras, testimonies from on-site officers and statements from investigators. Among their findings:

– It seemed that no officer waiting in the hallway during the shooting ever tested whether the door to the classroom was locked. The head of the Texas State Police Department has also blamed officers on the spot for not checking the doors.

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The officers had “weapons (including rifles), body armor (which may or may not have been considered to stop rifle rounds), training and backup. The victims in the classrooms had none of these things.”

– When officers finally entered the classroom at 12.50 – more than an hour after the shooting began – they were no better equipped to confront the gunman than they had been at the time.

– “Effective incident command” never seems to have been established among the many police authorities who reacted to the shooting.

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File: Director and Colonel of the Texas Department of Public Safety Steven C. McCraw speaks at a news conference using a crime picture of Robb Elementary School showing the path of the gunman, outside the school in Uvalde, Texas, May 27.

The armed man, an 18-year-old with a semi-automatic rifle in AR-15 style, entered the building at 11:33. Before it saw an Uvalde policeman, whom the report did not identify, the gunman was carrying a rake towards the entrance to the west hall. The officer asked a supervisor for permission to open fire, but the supervisor “either did not hear or answered too late,” the report said.

When the officer turned back towards the gunman, he already went in “unharmed”, according to the report.

The officer was 148 meters away from the door, which the report said was within range of his rifle, and is said to have said that he was worried that a mistake shot could have penetrated the school and injured students inside.

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“Ultimately, the decision to use lethal force always lies with the officer who is to use the force. If the officer was not confident that he could hit both the target and his backdrop if he missed, he should not have shot,” the report read.

The report is one of several factual investigations launched in the wake of the worst school shooting in Texas history. A Texas legislature has also interviewed more than 20 people, including officers who were on the scene, behind closed doors for several weeks. It is unclear when they will release their findings.

It follows from testimony last month that Colonel Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told the state Senate that the police response was an “absorbing failure.” He blamed chief Pete Arredondo in particular, saying that as commander on the spot, Uvalde School’s police chief made “terrible decisions” and stopped officers from confronting the gunman earlier.

Arredondo has tried to defend his actions, and told Texas Tribune that he did not consider himself the head of operations, and that he assumed that someone else had taken control of the police response. He said he did not have his police and campus radios, but that he used his cell phone to call for tactical equipment, a sniper and the classroom keys.

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According to the report released on Wednesday, Arredondo and another Uvalde police officer spent 13 minutes in school during the shooting to discuss tactical options, whether to use snipers and how to get into the classroom windows.

“They also discussed who has the keys, testing keys, the likelihood of the door being locked, and whether children and teachers are dying or dead,” the report said.

RELATED: Uvalde families demand details of shooting investigation at city council meeting

McCraw said police had enough officers and firepower at the scene of the Uvalde School massacre to have stopped the gunman three minutes after he entered the building, and they would have found the door to the classroom where he was unlocked if they had taken care of themselves. bother to check it out.

A lawyer for Arredondo and a spokeswoman for the police department in Uvalde did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Arredondo is on leave from his job at the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District and resigned from his position as city council leader last week.

Public leaders, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, first praised the Uvalde police response. Abbott said officers responded quickly and ran towards the exchange of fire with “incredible courage” to take out the killer, thus saving lives. He later said he was misled.

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Bleiberg reported from Dallas.

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