It took an hour for cops to stop the Texas school shooter. But experts say seconds matter when dealing with shooting victims.
- At least 19 children and two adults died in a mass shooting at a
Texaselementary school on Tuesday.
- The gunman was inside the school for 40 minutes or more before he was killed.
At least 19 children and two adults were killed in the rampage at Robb Elementary School earlier this week as police scramble to piece together a timeline of the shooting.
Though Uvalde Chief of Police Daniel Rodriguez said officers were at the scene "within minutes," roughly 40 minutes to an hour passed between the time the shooter entered the premises and when he was shot and killed by a Border Patrol agent, according to Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw during a press conference Wednesday.
Alex del Carmen, a policing expert and associate dean of Tarleton State University's School of Criminology, told Insider that "every second counts" when responding to active shooting situations, and officers are trained to "engage with or shoot at the suspect and neutralize the threat."
"The understanding is, the longer the threat and suspect is allowed to be on the premises, the more lives will be lost," Del Carmen told Insider. "If you have someone armed and shooting at victims there is no 'let's pause and get backup.'"
Robert McDonald, a criminal justice expert at the University of New Haven, echoed the concern of the response time by law enforcement but acknowledged that not all the facts have been laid out yet in the Uvalde school shooting.
"That length of time is a little bit of a concern, I think, but the questions that have to be asked, based upon that timeline is what was happening within the school during that time," McDonald said. "The only people that are gonna know that are the officers."
Nonetheless, he added: "Forty minutes — again, without Monday morning quarterbacking too much — does seem like a long amount of time for an active shooter situation."
Texas police said during a press conference Thursday that the gunman was not confronted by a school district police officer prior to the shooting, disputing previous reports.
"It was reported that a school district police officer confronted the suspect. That's not accurate," Victor Escalon, the South Texas regional director for the state's Department of Public Safety, said. "[The gunman] walked in unobstructed initially."
McDonald, who formerly served in the Secret Service for over two decades, emphasized the lack of "proactive deterrence" — like stationing a district resource officer at the entrance of the building and locking the entryways to the school — also contributed to the chaos that ensued in the Tuesday attack.
"That's the problem, that means that there was a breakdown in the protocols that, I believe, were in place," McDonald told Insider. "If there wasn't a resistance of the door, if there wasn't a resistance of a school resource officer at that point of entry, we're already behind the eight ball at that point."
Bystanders and parents expressed frustrations with first responders at the scene, with eyewitnesses describing police officers amassing for upwards of an hour outside the building while the shooter went on a killing spree inside.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Miguel Cerrillo, whose 11-year-old daughter Miah was in the classroom where the shooting took place, said his daughter, covered in blood but alive, described the attack she had witnessed. Miah's teacher, Eva Mireles — one of the two adults killed in the shooting — was shot and dropped a phone, after which Miah grabbed it and called 911.
Cerrillo also said his daughter's friend sustained a gunshot wound and was still breathing at first but died before help arrived, Miah told him.
Miah was taken to the Uvalde Memorial Hospital and treated for her injuries, and she was discharged late Tuesday evening. Though the wounds were settled, emotional scars and fear remained as Cerrillo recounted her daughter telling him to get his gun because the shooter was "going to come get us."
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