Updated Jun 21, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Texas claims "abject failure" by Uvalde cops

Steven C. McCraw

Steven McCraw during a press conference on May 27 in Uvalde, Texas. Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Law enforcement's response to the Uvalde elementary school mass shooting was "an abject failure and antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre," Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said at a state Senate hearing Tuesday.

Driving the news: Nineteen officers were stationed in the hallway outside when the first 911 call was made from inside one of the classrooms about 12:03pm that day, but law enforcement did not breach the classrooms until 12:51pm.

  • Many of the officers on scene wanted to go in to confront the shooter and were armed with enough weapons, tools and ballistic shields. But they didn't enter earlier due to a lack of clear orders, the Texas Tribune reported on Monday.
  • Police previously said the shooter had locked himself inside the two connected classrooms. Security footage reviewed by the Tribune didn't show law enforcement trying to open the doors, prompting some officials to be skeptical that the doors were locked at all.

The big picture: McCraw testified that the school's external door that was closed by a teacher was functioning correctly but did not lock automatically as the doors were only lockable from the outside.

  • "It was unlocked, he walked straight through it," McCraw said of the shooter's entrance into the school.
  • The doors to the classrooms were also unlocked as they were not lockable from the inside the classroom, meaning that "there's no way for the subject to lock the door from the inside," McCraw said.
  • No evidence has shown that officers responding to the shooting tried to open the door to see if it was locked or not, McCraw testified. Instead, they waited for a key. "You didn't need a key, OK? There's tools," McCraw said.

What they're saying: "Three minutes after the subject entered the west building, there was a sufficient number of armed officers — wearing body armor — to isolate, distract and neutralize the subject," McCraw said.

  • "The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering Room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children," he added.
  • "The officers had weapons, the children had none. The officers had body armor, the children had none. The officers had training, the subject had none."

Go deeper: Uvalde shooting timeline

Go deeper