Texas DPS official: LEOs had the firepower to stop Uvalde gunman sooner

Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, called the police response an “abject failure”


By Suzie Ziegler 

UVALDE, Texas — New surveillance and bodycam video shows officers inside Robb Elementary School armed with rifles and ballistic shields earlier than previously reported, according to documents reviewed by KVUE. Investigators say this means officers had enough firepower to stop the gunman far earlier, according to the Austin American-Statesman

Authorities have struggled to piece together a consistent timeline since the mass shooting on May 24, leading to confusion. Steve McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, had strong words for the police response, calling it an “abject failure.” 

“[The police response] was an abject failure antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre,” McCraw said during a Texas Senate hearing on Tuesday. “Three minutes after the subject entered the west building there were a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract and neutralize the subject.” 

The latest timeline says 11 officers entered the school within three minutes of the gunman, but officers waited more than 70 minutes to confront the shooter, KVUE reported on Monday. 

Surveillance footage obtained by KVUE shows officers standing in the hallway 19 minutes after the gunman entered the school. The 18-year-old would go on to kill 19 students and two teachers. 

According to the timeline, the gunman entered the school at 11:33 a.m. and school district police chief Pete Arredondo called for help at 11:40 a.m. 

“[Law enforcement] need to be outside the building prepared because we don't have firepower right now," Arredondo said, according to the report. "It's all pistols." 

At 11:52 a.m., bodycam footage shows the first officer with a ballistic shield enter the school, the report said. 

"If there's kids in there, we need to go in there,” an officer said, according to the report. A second officer with a shield arrives at 12:03 p.m., and a third arrives at 12:05 p.m. The report says Arredondo wondered aloud if officers could shoot the suspect through the classroom’s windows about 30 minutes before breaching the classroom. SWAT officers arrived at 12:46 p.m. and breached the classroom at 12:50 p.m. on Arredondo’s orders, according to the report. 

McCraw condemned Arredondo’s decision. 

“The only thing stopping them was the on-scene commander who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children,” McCraw continued during the Senate hearing. “The officers had weapons. The children had none. The officers had body armor. The children had none.” 

Arredondo previously said he didn’t consider himself to be the incident commander. The investigation is ongoing.

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