Uvalde police knew victims were still alive while they waited outside classroom for shields: NYT

Uvalde police knew victims were still alive while they waited outside classroom for shields: NYT
Crime scene tape surrounds Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday, May 25, 2022.AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
  • Police knew victims were still alive while they waited to confront the gunman in Uvalde, The New York Times reported.
  • "People are going to ask why we're taking so long," police chief Pete Arredondo is believed to say on a recording.

Police in Uvalde, Texas, knew there were victims still alive while they waited outside a classroom to confront a gunman who ultimately killed 21 people, including 19 children, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Citing video footage and other material being poured over by investigators, The Times reported that Uvalde's school district police chief Pete Arredondo instructed officers to wait until they received more protective equipment before seeking to disable the shooter inside Robb Elementary School.

"People are going to ask why we're taking so long," a man believed to be Arredondo is heard saying on a recording. According to its review of the material, The Times reported that the delay was caused by Arredondo's belief that more lives could be saved by waiting for shields to arrive and evacuating other students before barging into the classroom.

"We're trying to preserve the rest of the life," Arredondo reportedly said, according to footage captured by a body camera.

Three children died at a hospital later, The Times noted, and one teacher died in an ambulance. One of those children, Xavier Lopez, 10, lost blood after being shot in the back.


"The police did not go in for more than an hour. He bled out," his grandfather Leonard Sandoval told The Times. "He could have been saved."

"We think there are some injuries in there," Arredondo reportedly said, according to a transcript obtained by the Times. "And so you know what we did, we cleared off the rest of the building so we wouldn't have any more, besides what's already in there, obviously."

The Times report added that by 12:30 p.m. Arredondo was ready to send in officers but was still looking to get access to keys. The transcript did not specify if anyone checked the door to see if it was locked.

Border Patrol agents entered the classroom around 12:50 p.m. and killed the 18-year-old gunman who had barricaded himself in a linked pair of classrooms with three teachers and 33 teachers.

The Texas state police and the U.S. Justice Department are investigating the almost hour-and-a-half-long response to the shooting, while 60 officers were at the school, according to The Times.


In a press conference days after the shooting, Director of Texas Department of Public Safety Steven McCraw said that police initially chose not to approach the gunman because the chief "believed that it had transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject."

Arredondo and police have been criticized for their slow response — which goes against standard protocol — and for changing their timeline of the May 24 shooting at least 13 times.

Texas authorities told the mother of one of the 19 children that died that her daughter may have survived had the police had a quicker response.

One father of a victim echoed the anger over response times: "It doesn't take a genius to figure out that it just took too long to get in there and, you know, had they gotten there sooner, and someone would have taken immediate action, we might have more of those children here today," Alfred Garza, father of 10-year-old daughter Amerie Jo, told CNN. "Including my daughter."