A Uvalde police officer armed with a rifle spotted the shooter outside Robb Elementary School and was ready to shoot. He asked permission to shoot, but his supervisor either didn’t hear him or responded too late – and by then the shooter had entered the building, according to a new assessment of the response of the forces of the order.
The shooter then killed 19 young students and two teachers in a classroom before authorities finally entered the classroom more than an hour later.
Another school district police department officer had speeded through the school parking lot while the shooter was there, but did not see him.
These were part of a series of missed opportunities, mistakes and “key issues” which, if handled differently, could have helped avert tragedy, according to the first part of a Center report. Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT), an active shooter and attack response training provider at Texas State University.
Two unlocked doors, a lack of effective command, officer positions inside and a loss of momentum after authorities entered the building were other issues highlighted in the report.
The assessment, released Wednesday, was created using school video, third-party video, body cameras, radio logs, verbal testimony from officers and statements from investigators.
The report should not yet be considered a “definitive or final report as not all investigative options have been exhausted”, he added.
Another part of the report, which has yet to be released, will address issues of who led the law enforcement response during the massacre; the first part noted a “lack of effective (in the event of an incident) command that could hamper” law enforcement response.
Uvalde School District Police Chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, who was identified by state authorities as the on-scene commander during the attack, told the Texas Tribune last month that he did not see himself as the incident commander and assumed that another official had taken control of the greater response.
The first officers who entered the building after the shooter correctly walked in on the active gunfire, according to the report.
But after the gunman, who was inside the adjacent classrooms where the massacre took place, began shooting at the doors of the rooms, the officers retreated, according to the report.
“Ideally, the officers would have placed an accurate return fire on the attacker when he started shooting at them,” he said. To do this, officers could have used a window that was in the center of each classroom door, according to the report.
“Holding the position or even advancing to a better place to return fire accurately would undoubtedly have been dangerous, and there would have been a high probability that some of the officers would have been shot down or even killed,” the assessment added. “However, officers could also have arrested the attacker and then focused on providing immediate medical attention to the injured.”
Instead, after the officers retreated, it took more than an hour “to regain momentum” and get to the victims, according to the report.
“Although we do not have definitive information at this stage, it is possible that some of the people who died in this event could have been saved if they had received faster medical attention,” he added.
Having teams of officers on both sides of the school hallway was another issue, according to the assessment. Had the suspect walked out of the classroom, officers on both sides of the hall likely would have started firing, creating a “crossfire situation” in which they could have shot each other, he said.
“Teams should have communicated quickly and officers at one end of the hallway should have backed off and redeployed to another position,” the report said.
Two doors that should have been locked were also flagged by the ALERRT report: the exterior door of the building through which the shooter entered the school and the classroom door which he later used.
The building’s exterior door had been held open by a teacher and then closed by the same teacher before the shooter approached, the report said, echoing earlier statements by Texas authorities.
But the teacher didn’t check to see if the door was locked, so the shooter “was able to gain immediate access to the building,” the report said.
However, even if the door had been locked, the report adds, it had a steel frame with a large glass inlay – which was not ballistic glass and had no film – which the shooter could have shot at. then use it to open the door.
Once inside, the shooter was also able to enter adjoining classrooms, ALERRT experts noted. The lock in one of the rooms had been “reported as damaged multiple times”, according to an investigator quoted in the assessment.
The suspect was not seen at any time engaging with a locking mechanism on the classroom door and “based on this, we believe the lock in Room 111 was never engaged,” says The report.
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