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Texas media outlets published footage of the police response to the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, hours after a state official announced plans to make the surveillance video public later this week after the victims’ families had had a chance to view it.
The Austin American-Statesman and KVUE released edited footage of dozens of heavily armed law enforcement officers waiting in the hallway outside a pair of adjoining fourth-grade classrooms where the shooter was mercilessly killing students and their teachers. Officers waited more than 70 minutes before a Border Patrol tactical team breached the room and killed the gunman.
Warning: The video footage and audio is disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.
Video from inside Robb Elementary and body camera footage from a responding officer show how Uvalde officers responded to the active shooter. Full story and video: https://t.co/Pscj2Ruvh5 pic.twitter.com/y1hd52Q4Rf
— Austin Statesman (@statesman) July 12, 2022
The footage shows three officers entering the school hallway three minutes after the gunman entered the school. Shots are heard and the officers retreat to the end of the hallway. Later, four shots were fired inside the classrooms 45 minutes after police arrived on-scene yet police continued to wait to enter the classroom.
The outlets released the footage hours after state Representative Dustin Burrows announced that lawmakers planned to show the footage to the families of the 19 students and two teachers who were killed before publicly releasing the video on Sunday.
“The Committee will convene at 2 PM on Sunday in Uvalde,” said Burrows, who is chair of the Texas House committee investigating the shooting. “We will meet with members of the community first, and provide them an opportunity to see the hallway video and discuss our preliminary report. Very soon thereafter, we will release both to the public.”
Burrows said in a separate tweet on Tuesday that he is “disappointed” that the video became public before the victims’ families could view the footage.
“The committee is aware a portion of the hallway video has been made public,” he wrote. “While I am glad that a small portion is now available for the public, I do believe watching the entire segment of law enforcement’s response, or lack thereof, is also important. I am also disappointed the victim’s families and the Uvalde community’s requests to watch the video first, and not have certain images and audio of the violence, were not achieved.”
KVUE said that both outlets “have elected to release that footage Tuesday to provide transparency to the community, showing what happened as officials waited to enter that classroom.”
The full video does not show when the shooter, Salvador Ramos, killed the victims nor when he was killed by a Border Patrol tactical team, Burrows said during a committee meeting on Monday, the New York Post reported.
Police officers with rifles gathered in the hallway outside the classroom for nearly an hour while the gunman, armed with an AR-15-style rifle, carried out his attack.
Texas Department of Public Safety director Steve McCraw called the police response to the shooting an “abject failure.”
Officials around the nation have been questioning why it took 77 minutes for police to enter the classrooms.
McCraw testified before a state Senate committee last month that Uvalde school-district police chief Pete Arredondo, who served as on-scene commander and has since been placed on leave, was “the only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers” from entering the classrooms where the shooter was.
He said Arredondo “decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children,” arguing that law enforcement had a large enough presence at the scene of the shootings to have stopped the 18-year-old gunman within three minutes if the on-scene commander had not kept officers from entering the rooms.
James Gagliano, a retired FBI supervisory special agent who served on the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team and as a senior SWAT team leader, told National Review in an interview that the police response in Uvalde represented a “colossal failure of the incident command system.”
“The ICS is put in place to make certain that local, state law enforcement and federal law enforcement understand how they fit together — the symmetry, the synergy,” he said.
“Why was a police chief of a six-member school-district police department left in charge as the on-scene commander as long as he was?” Gagliano said. “I would argue a sergeant or lieutenant from a larger police department, whether it’s the Department of Public Safety in Texas or another local police department with a bigger department probably has more experience in training.”
Arredondo previously told the Texas Tribune that he and another group of officers tried to open the doors to classrooms 111 and 112 but that the doors were reinforced and impenetrable.
While reports have indicated police were waiting for a master set of keys to enter the classrooms, an officer said a Halligan bar, an ax-like forcible-entry tool, arrived eight minutes after the shooter entered the building, according to McGraw. Authorities did not use the tool, which was not brought into the school until an hour after the first officers entered the building, and instead waited for keys, according to a Texas Tribune report.
McGraw said the classroom door could not be locked from the inside and testified that the officers never tried to see if the door was unlocked.