Authorities Admit 'Wrong Decision' Not to Confront Gunman Sooner During Texas School Shooting

The commander on the scene believed that the gunman had barricaded himself into an empty classroom, and that no children were at risk, says Col. Steven McCraw

Three days after a gunman entered Robb Middle School in Uvalde, Texas, and opened fire, killing 19 students and 2 teachers, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety says that the incident commander on the scene made the "wrong decision" to wait before breaching the classroom doors.

"From the benefit of hindsight where I'm sitting now, of course, it was not the right decision," Col. Steven McCraw told reporters. "It was a wrong decision. There's no excuse for that. We believe there should have been an entry as soon as you can. When there's an active shooter, the rules change."

The shooter entered the building through a door that a teacher had propped open. According to McCraw, the school officer was not initially on campus when the gunman breached the school.

aw enforcement personnel stand outside Robb Elementary School following a shooting, in Uvalde, Texas Texas School Shooting, Uvalde, United States - 24 May 2022
Law enforcement seen outside the school Tuesday.

McCraw said that the commander believed that the gunman had barricaded himself into an empty classroom, and that no children were at risk. "He believed that it had transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject," he said.

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Approximately 20 officers waited in a hallway for more than 45 minutes, McCraw says. They finally engaged with the gunman after Border Patrol agents used a master key to open the door.

By that time, the victims were dead.

Outside, family members begged police to take action — and some of them tried to take matters into their own hands to save their children.

The Associated Press reported that many parents at the scene urged police to follow the shooter into the school. When the police remained outside, at least one parent tried to enter the school himself, only to be pinned to the ground by an officer. A video of the altercation was posted on YouTube on Wednesday.

"There was a lot of chaos," says Ernest "Chip" King, a Uvalde firefighter who estimated that the gunfire went on for about 40 minutes. "Fathers smashed windows, and physically pulled their kids out of classrooms."

Many relatives believe that the police hesitation cost lives

"Everyone was just showing up and they weren't doing anything," says Berlinda Arreola, 49, whose granddaughter Amerie Jo Garza was killed in the attack. "The parents were being all crazy, like 'why aren't you all doing anything? Why aren't you going in?'"

Authorities promise a complete and transparent investigation into the police response to the shooting.

"We take an oath to uphold the law and protect people and anytime something tragic like this, we want to know why it happened, and if we can do better next time," McCraw says. "There's a bottom line and call it like it is. It is tragic."

The school district in Uvalde has opened an official account with First State Bank of Uvalde to support Robb Elementary families affected by the tragedy. People can send checks through the mail (payable to the "Robb School Memorial Fund") or donate money through Zelle to People can also donate by calling 830-356-2273.

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