Leaked security video from inside the Uvalde, Texas elementary school where a teenage gunman fatally shot 19 children and two teachers offers an agonizing look at dozens upon dozens of heavily armed police, wearing body armor and equipped with at least four ballistic shields, failing to act.
The footage, which authorities said would be shown privately to victims’ families this Sunday, was published late Tuesday by the Austin American-Statesman. The paper has weathered significant blowback for its decision to make the video public ahead of its official release, with Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, who fought to keep the video under wraps, calling it “one of the most chicken things I’ve ever seen.”
Nevertheless, the video “provides horrifying evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary on May 24 was an abject failure,” Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said in a Tuesday statement.
As the 82-minute video begins, 18-year-old shooter Salvador Ramos can be seen crashing his grandmother’s truck into a ditch near the school. When two Good Samaritans leave a nearby funeral parlor to check on him, Ramos fires his weapon at them. The pair turn and run away, one of them losing his balance trying to escape.
Ramos then easily hops the school’s fence and enters the building at 11:33 a.m., unimpeded.
The footage shows him walk in holding an assault-style rifle and wearing a backpack. Ramos makes a right turn and heads down a long hallway toward classrooms 111 and 112.
A young child exits a nearby restroom and sees Ramos from a distance. Suddenly, a burst of gunfire erupts and the terrified child runs away.
The gunfire continues as the first two police officers run into the school at 11:36.
Another cop comes in behind them, but stays put near the entrance. After peeking out from behind a wall, the officer checks his cellphone, which has the Punisher logo displayed on the lockscreen.
It later emerged that the officer, identified by Texas State Rep. Joe Moody as Ruben Ruiz, received a text from his wife, teacher Eva Mireles, who had been shot in one of the classrooms.
Ruiz reportedly attempted to take action, but a fellow officer took his gun and removed him from the scene, according to Texas Department of Public Safety Steve McCraw. (This does not appear in the video, which shows Ruiz walking out of frame at 11:38, after which he is not seen again on-camera.)
At 11:37, another burst of gunfire rings out. The first cops on the scene immediately run in the opposite direction.
After the cops retreat, a swarm of police from various local, state, and federal agencies converge on the hallway. A few of them assume shooting positions, aiming rifles and handguns down the hallway in the direction of the classroom where Ramos is holed up. Others can be seen walking around in the adjacent hallway, talking among themselves, and using their phones. None of them are seen taking any direct action or attempting to enter any classrooms.
At 11:51, a Border Patrol agent shows up.
A minute later, a sheriff’s deputy arrives with a ballistic shield.
But even with the ballistic shield there, the officers do little more than stand around, massed at a safe distance.
“There’s teachers! Teachers!” one of the officers can be heard saying at 11:55, while staying firmly put at the end of the hallway.
Another Border Patrol agent shows up at 12:04 and sets down a second ballistic shield at the near end of the hallway.
Less than a minute later, a third ballistic shield arrives. However, the assembled officers, all armed with high-powered weapons, stay put.
At 12:20, the officers—still keeping a safe distance down the hall from Ramos—can be heard discussing breaching the classroom door. One says he has a Halligan tool, a crowbar-like device, in his vehicle outside. Another asks for a “master key.” Someone else suggests they “breach the windows.” (Investigators later said the door to the classroom was unlocked the whole time.)
At 12:21, a Border Patrol agent in tactical gear is the first to make a move. He heads down the hallway, leading a group of others in a stack formation toward the classroom where Ramos is.
Officers continue to arrive over the next several minutes. Many are now down at the far end of the hallway, finally getting closer to Ramos.
At 12:30, an officer from the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Department standing near the school entrance casually wanders over to a wall-mounted hand sanitizer dispenser and helps himself to a squirt.
At 12:34, a uniformed deputy marshal can be seen walking back from the far end of the hallway with a fourth ballistic shield.
At 12:35, someone says SWAT is “on the way.” The Halligan tool finally arrives.
At 12:38, two officers in camo share a fist bump as they pass each other in the hallway. At roughly the same moment, a 4th-grader in room 112 is on the phone with 911 pleading with the dispatcher to send police.
At 12:41, cops are still descending on the school. By now, the hallway is getting full. But still no breach of the classroom.
At 12:43, a man wearing blue surgical gloves and a stethoscope around his neck shows up and begins to issue commands. A Border Patrol agent arrives with a stretcher.
By 12:46, more than an hour after Ramos begins shooting, the hallway is nearly overflowing with police.
At 12:48, an officer brings a sledgehammer inside. The hallway is now packed with cops.
“Everybody, heads up. Heads up,” someone says.
At 12:49, a medical backboard can be seen, at the ready.
At 12:50, one hour and 17 minutes after the rampage began, cops finally open fire on Ramos. After an apparent moment of confusion, various officers start to move down the hallway towards the classroom. The man in the blue surgical gloves puts his hands up to stop them. Yelling can be heard from the far end of the hall.
One officer, Deputy Felix Rubio of the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office, can be seen getting emotional at this point, as a few fellow officers appear to comfort him. It would later emerge that Rubio’s 10-year-old daughter, Lexi, a student at Robb Elementary, was one of the children killed.
The rest of the officers now make their way down the hall as the video ends. In the days that followed, authorities announced that a Border Patrol agent was the one who shot Ramos dead.
Not everyone who survived the shooting that day has been so eager to see the footage.
“For myself, in experiencing what I experienced, I don’t think I want to see it,” Mercedes Salas, a 4th grade teacher at Robb Elementary, told The Daily Beast prior to the leak. “But I know there are a lot of parents who want to see it. To me, it was horrific, I’ve seen and heard enough. And they should cater to the needs of the parents at this point. So I put myself to the side as to my needs, The parents’ needs matter.”
the new surveillance footage of the Uvalde shooting breaks my fcking heart. i couldn’t watch it all the way. COPS STOOD THERE and did NOTHING. my aunt and uncle didn’t deserve this. the family’s affected deserve this. we NEED justice
— john martinez ❤️🔥 (@fuhknjo) July 12, 2022
Nicole Ogburn, who also teaches 4th grade at Robb Elementary, cheated death that day by escaping through a classroom window.
“I kinda want to see it but I kinda don’t,” she told The Daily Beast, emphasizing that she’s still hesitant to place too much blame on her local police.
“In order for me to deal and get past all this, I can’t not trust my law enforcement,” Ogburn said. “OK, they made mistakes but they probably will never do that again… [Ramos] is the one who did this to everybody… He’s the one that caused this to happen.”
McCraw, the DPS director, has singled out Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo, the incident commander, as the weak link responsible for botching the response. Instead of following active shooter protocols, which require an immediate confrontation with the gunman, Arredondo viewed Ramos as a barricaded subject, a situation which requires a more gradual response.
In a Tuesday column explaining the decision to release the leaked hallway video, American-Statesman Executive Editor Manny Garcia wrote, “Our goal is to continue to bring to light what happened at Robb Elementary, which the families and friends of the Uvalde victims have long been asking for.”