Texas cops could have stopped the Uvalde gunman within minutes, but the school police chief placed the 'lives of officers before the lives of children': DPS director
- A top Texas official said police could have stopped the Uvalde school shooter within minutes.
- Steve McCraw said there was a hallway full of officers ready to enter the classrooms, but the on-scene commander chose to wait for backup.
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said cops responding to the shooter at a Uvalde elementary school could have stopped the gunman within minutes, but that the commanding officer prioritized the lives of the police officers over the lives of the unarmed students.
"Three minutes after the subject entered the west building there were sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract, and neutralize the subject," Steve McCraw testified to state lawmakers on Tuesday.
"The only thing stopping the hallway of dedicated officers from entering rooms 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children," he continued.
McCraw noted that officers had guns and body armor whereas the children had none. Similarly, the officers were trained to handle an active shooter, and the shooter had no such training.
"There is compelling evidence the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure and antithetical to everything we've learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre," McCraw said.
McCraw said the on-scene commander, Uvalde School Police Chief Pete Arredondo, chose to wait for backup, supplies, and SWAT before entering rooms 111 and 112.
He added that Arredondo waited for a key to open the classroom door "that was never needed."
"I don't believe based on the information we have right now that that door was ever secured," McCraw said, explaining that the door was not able to be locked from the inside. "In fact, I have great reason to believe it wasn't secured."
Responding officers never tried opening the door, according to McCraw.
"We could never see anybody put their hand on the door up until the breach," McCraw said, referring to video from the scene.
McCraw said responding officers had an "obligation" to enter the room and engage the shooter as soon as they got to the school. Instead, over an hour went by before the shooter was confronted and killed by police.
"The post-Columbine doctrine is clear and compelling and unambiguous," he continued. "Stop the killing. Stop the dying."
"Obviously not enough training was done in this situation, plain and simple, because of terrible decisions," McCraw said. "Terrible decisions were made by the on-scene commander and should have never happened plain and simple."
McCraw also pushed back on suggestions he was shifting blame.
"I appear to be hypercritical of the on-scene commander and I don't mean to be but the facts are the facts," he testified. "Mistakes were made, it should have never happened that way."
He added that Arredondo's actions "set our profession back a decade."
The Texas Senate hearing took place on the same day Arredondo was called in front of a Texas House committee investigating the shooting. However, his comments took place behind closed doors.
"I challenge this chief to come testify in public as to what happened here," Texas Sen. Paul Bettencourt said during the public Senate hearing. "Don't go hide in the House and talk privately, come to the Senate where the public and Texas can ask these questions."
Nineteen students and two teachers were killed when an 18-year-old gunman opened fire on two fourth-grade classrooms at Robb Elementary.
Texas officials have faced backlash for not confronting the shooter fast enough. Texas DPS officials have put the blame on Arredondo, who made the call to wait for backup instead of going into the classroom with the shooter immediately.