Texas school shooting: CCTV video of Uvalde attack raises serious questions on fully armed officers
Texas school shooting: Nearly two months after the death of 19 school children and two teachers, Uvalde still faces questions on if the police will face consequences. The Austin American-Statesman has released a May 24 video taken inside Robb Elementary School on the fatal day. The nearly 80-minute hallway surveillance video has for the first time thrown light on the disturbing and painful clarity of a hesitant and haphazard tactical response by fully armed officers, which the head of Texas’ state police has condemned as a failure and some Uvalde residents have blasted as cowardly.
Only one officer from the scene of the deadliest school shooting in Texas history is known to be on leave. Authorities have still not released the names of officers who, for more than an hour, milled in and out of a hallway near the adjoining fourth-grade classrooms where the gunman was firing.
Nearly two months after the massacre, there’s still disagreement about who was in charge.
Hours after the video was published, residents shouted from their seats at a City Council meeting Tuesday, demanding to know whether officers who were at the shooting were still on the force or getting paid. Council members did not respond.
Police are afforded formidable legal protections, set up with the idea that their jobs often require life-and-death judgement calls under great pressure. Even with the officers’ hesitation captured on video, policing experts say it’s difficult to predict how likely they are to face discipline or legal fallout.
Texas school shooting video footage
The footage from a hallway camera inside the school shows the gunman entering the building with an AR-15-style rifle and includes 911 tape of a teacher screaming, “Get down! Get in your rooms! Get in your rooms!”
Two officers approach the classrooms minutes after the gunman enters, then run back amid the sounds of gunfire. From there, the minutes tick by and more gunshots from the classrooms are heard as additional officers from multiple agencies arrive. More than an hour passes before a team finally advances down the hallway, breaches the classrooms and ends the massacre.
More than a dozen officers — some armed with rifles and bulletproof shields — are visible during some points of the video. During the long wait to confront the gunman, one man in body armor and a vest that says “sheriff” squeezes a few pulls of hand sanitizer from a dispenser mounted on the wall.
It is a starkly different scene than the one described by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott the day after the shooting when he praised a swift response and officers who “showed amazing courage by running toward gunfire.” Abbott later said he was given the wrong information but did not identify from whom.
That’s just one example of inaccurate and conflicting statements given by authorities in the seven weeks since the shooting.
After the 2018 shooting at Parkland High School in Florida that killed 17 people, a deputy who knew the gunman was loose but refused to go inside was arrested on criminal charges. Legal experts have called that an extremely rare case of someone essentially being charged for not going into harm’s way and have expressed skepticism about the case, which is set for trial in February.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said it was too early to decide whether any officers should be taken off the force.
“I don’t know they need to step down,” he said. “But everything needs to be reviewed.”
So far, officials have only publicly confirmed one officer on leave: Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde school district police chief who also stepped down from his newly won City Council seat last month. He has disputed the state police’s characterization that he was in charge of the scene.
A Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman said no troopers who were there have been suspended. Officials with the Uvalde police and sheriff’s office did not answer questions about whether any of their officers have been suspended or placed on leave.
(With inputs from AP)
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