Jun 1, 2022 - Politics & Policy

The Uvalde shooting details that officials have retracted

A memorial outside at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 31.
A memorial outside at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 31. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Texas authorities have relayed then later retracted multiple key details about the school shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 kids and two teachers and injured at least 17 people last week.

Why it matters: State authorities' disordered account of the shooting comes as they and local police face criticism and questioning on why it took so long for officers to confront and stop the gunman.

  • The shooter locked himself inside two connected fourth-grade classrooms with teachers and students at Robb Elementary School.

The big picture: New details about mass shootings typically emerge as investigators synthesize evidence they've gathered and release vetted information.

  • Yes, but: Even elected Texas officials have said they were initially given bad information that they relayed publicly, creating confusion for the public.
  • Such contradictions could cause the public to lose trust in information provided by law enforcement officials and may contribute to misinformation surrounding mass shootings.

Zoom in: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said last week that he was initially "misled" on the timeline and the events of the shooting and that he was "livid."

What to watch: The Department of Justice announced Sunday that it is reviewing local law enforcement's response to the shooting "to provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses that day."

The details Texas officials have backtracked on

Texas authorities first said the school's hired resource officer confronted the gunman before he gained access to the school.

  • Later that week, Texas Department of Public Safety director Steven McCraw backtracked that detail, saying that the resource officer was not on campus when shooting near the school was first reported but immediately proceeded to the scene.
  • He also said the resource officer drove past the shooter and instead confronted a teacher after arriving on campus.

McCraw previously said the gunman entered the school through a door that had been propped open by a teacher before the shooting started.

  • But Texas Department of Public Safety spokesperson Travis Considine said Tuesday that investigators determined the teacher had propped open the door before the shooting with a rock but removed it after hearing gunshots outside and closed the door but it did not lock.
  • Considine said authorities are now investigating why the door did not lock.

Authorities initially said the gunman was wearing body armor throughout the shooting.

  • They later said he was wearing a plate carrier vest that did not have ballistic plates inside of it.

Officials changed their account on how long the shooter was outside the school before entering.

  • Victor Escalon, a regional director at the Texas Department of Public Safety, said last week that the shooter, after crashing his vehicle in a ditch near the school, was outside of the building for 12 minutes before entering and locking himself in the classrooms.
  • But McCraw said later that week that the shooter inside of the school within five minutes of crashing his vehicle.

McCraw initially said the law enforcement who first arrived on campus after gunfire was reported "did engage immediately" with the shooter and "did contain him" in the classrooms.

  • McCraw later said that though three police officers entered the building only minutes after the shooter, he was already locked inside of the classrooms firing rounds.
  • Two of those officers were injured with grazing gunshot wounds after they approached one of the doors to the connected classrooms.
The major unknowns

Why the on-scene commander did not consider the school to be under an active-shooter situation:

  • McCraw said last week that the on-scene commander made "the wrong decision" by not breaching the classrooms where the gunman was with students and teachers sooner.
  • He said the commander considered the gunman to be a "barricaded subject" rather than an active shooter, despite multiple 911 calls from inside the classrooms over roughly 4o minutes.

Why police did not breach the classrooms sooner:

  • When the first 911 call was made by a student at 12:03pm on May 24, McCraw said there were 19 police officers in a hallway outside the classrooms.
  • The same student made two more 911 calls just minutes after the first call and advised the operator that multiple people inside one of the classrooms were dead but several students were still alive.
  • The shooter was inside the school for around 80 minutes before one of the doors to the classrooms was unlocked by a team of Border Patrol tactical agents around 12:50pm that day and the gunman was killed, according to the timeline provided by McCraw

If more lives could have been saved had police breached the classrooms sooner:

  • It is currently unknown if first responders could have saved more lives if law enforcement officials had not delayed the breaching.
  • It is presumed that first responders and trauma surgeons have a higher likelihood of preventing traumatic deaths if they can provide medical and surgical treatment to a critically wounded patient within a certain time period.

Go deeper ... Uvalde gunman's last 90 minutes: What we know

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