New York – The police response to the Uvalde school massacre in Texas last month was an “abject failure,” a top law enforcement official told a hearing into the tragedy Tuesday, saying officers wasted vital time looking for a classroom key that was “never needed.”
Nineteen young children and two teachers were killed when a teenage gunman went on a rampage at Robb Elementary on May 24 in America’s worst school shooting in a decade.
Local police have been under intense scrutiny since it emerged that more than a dozen officers waited outside a pair of adjoining classrooms and did nothing as children lay dead or dying inside.
During the siege, frustrated onlookers urged police officers to charge into the school, according to witnesses.
Police Face Questions Over Response To Texas School Shooting pic.twitter.com/grZEFB1tUg
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Steve McCraw, Texas’s public safety chief, told state senators probing the handling of the tragedy that police had enough officers and gear to stop the shooter minutes after he entered the school.
But instead, they waited almost one hour and 15 minutes to confront the 18-year-old gunman as he carried out his attack.
“Three minutes after the subject entered the building, there was a sufficient number of armed officers, wearing body armour, to isolate, distract and neutralize the subject,” said McCraw.
“The only thing stopping the hallway of dedicated officers from entering rooms 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children,” he added.
McCraw said the on-site commander Pete Arredondo, who has said in interviews since the tragedy he did not believe he was in charge of the overall police response had made “terrible decisions.”
Colonel Steven McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, branded the police response to the Uvalde school shooting last month an ‘abject failure’.
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“The officers had weapons, the children had none. The officers had body armour, the children had none. The officers had training, the subject had none,” he testified.
Arredondo had claimed that the classroom door was locked, delaying their move on the shooter, but McCraw told the inquiry that was not believed to be the case.
“He waited for a key that was never needed,” said the official.
Earlier this month, Miah Cerrillo, an 11-year-old girl at Robb Elementary, told a House of Representatives committee how she had made desperate calls to 911.
“I told her that we need help – and (we need) to see the police in our classroom,” said the fourth-grader.
McCraw said the police response ran counter to lessons learned since the Columbine high school shooting that left 13 people dead in 1999.
Texas’ top cop described the response to the Uvalde school shooting as an “abject failure and antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the two decades since the Columbine massacre.”https://t.co/QPbcdF7eox pic.twitter.com/a8tWbc4A3R
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“There’s compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure and antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre,” said McCraw.
“Obviously, not enough training was done in this situation, plain and simple,” he added.