A newly released image, which shows Uvalde police officers waiting inside the school, has reignited public outrage over law enforcement’s botched response to the massacre at Robb Elementary School.
According to the latest timeline, Uvalde police officers made it into the school within 20 minutes of gunman Salvador Ramos breaching the building. An image released on Monday clearly shows these officers standing and waiting in one of the school’s hallways, even as they’re armed with rifles and a ballistic shield.
Based on this new information, investigators now say responding officers had more than enough firepower and protection to confront Ramos. Despite this, it took police nearly an hour to act: 58 minutes in which the gunman was free to barricade himself inside two classrooms, before finally being shot dead by Border Patrol agents at 12:50 p.m.
During this hour-long waiting period, police could hear the gunman firing shots inside the building. Body camera footage captured one of the waiting officers growing impatient. “If there’s kids in there, we need to go in there,” the officer said, to which another officer responded, “Whoever is in charge will determine that.”
The man in charge was Pete Arredondo, chief of the Uvalde school district police department. Within minutes of the gunman breaching the school and beginning his rampage, Arredondo was aware of how urgent the situation was.
“It’s an emergency right now,” he said in a call to the Uvalde Police Department. “We have him in the room. He’s got an AR-15. He’s shot a lot. They need to be outside the building prepared because we don’t have firepower right now. It’s all pistols.”
Despite getting the needed firepower within 10 minutes of making that call, Arredondo still hesitated to confront the gunman. Instead the police chief decided to wait for a pair of keys from a school janitor, without ever trying the door to the classroom where the gunman was located.
New reports have indicated that the door to the barricaded classroom may have been unlocked the entire time.
“The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering room 111 and room 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children,” said Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, about Arredondo’s decision.