Uvalde Police Waited for Body Armor Before Confronting Gunman Inside School: Report

Documents reviewed by The New York Times indicated that police waited to enter the building for protective gear despite being aware that there were injured people inside

More details are emerging about what may have delayed authorities in confronting the gunman during the tragic mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas last month.

According to documents reviewed by The New York Times in a story published Thursday, despite supervisors at the scene being aware that people had been injured and were in need of medical attention, officers delayed confrontation on May 24.

Based on documents and video, the Times reported that Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (CISD) Police Chief Pete Arredondo appeared to be worried aboutthe amount of time it was taking to obtain protective shields that would help protect officers when they entered the locked classrooms — as well as finding a key to the classroom doors.

The chief became aware that not everyone inside the classrooms was already dead and that there were people in need of medical attention, according to the Times article. One of those people was Eva Mireles, who called her husband Ruben Ruiz, a school district police officer, to tell him she had been shot.

Ruiz, one of six Uvalde CISD police officers, then rushed to the school, the Times reported. Documents apparently show that he informed responders on the scene that his wife was still alive, but hurt, inside one of the classrooms. Mireles would reach an ambulance, but died before making it to the hospital.

Robb Elementary School
Officers at Robb Elementary School. Brandon Bell/Getty

"She says she is shot," Ruiz could be heard telling other officers as he arrived inside the school at 11:48 a.m., according to the body camera transcript, reported by the Timesaround 15 minutes after families were first informed that a gunman had entered the school.

That message appeared to have reached a sergeant from the Uvalde Police Department, the paper reported, who was near Arredondo inside of the school.

"There's a teacher shot in there," an officer could be heard telling the sergeant, according to the transcript, just before 12:30 p.m.

"I know," the sergeant replied.

By that time, heavily armed tactical officers had arrived, the Times reported, along with protective shields.

At that point — about an hour after gunfire started in the school— Arredondo began discussing breaching the classroom where the gunman was, according to transcripts obtained by the outlet.

"We're ready to breach, but that door is locked," he said around 12:30 p.m., according to a transcript.

The Uvalde CISD and Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

A team of Border Patrol agents and a sheriff's deputy ultimately entered the building to hunt down the gunman and killed him at about 12:50 p.m.

In an interview with The Texas Tribune published Thursday, Arredondo said he never considered himself the commander at the scene and did not give any instruction that police should not attempt to breach the building.

Texas Department of Public Safety officials, though, have described Arredondo as the incident commander. They said the Uvalde CISD police chief made the call to stand down and treat the incident as a "barricaded suspect," the Tribune reported.

Robb Elementary School
Robb Elementary School. Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty

Arredondo also alleged he was unaware of the 911 calls because he did not have his radio — which he left behind because he believed it would slow him down. He further claimed that no one in the hallways relayed the information to him.

Law enforcement investigators have inferred, the Times reported, that more than a dozen of the 33 children and three teachers originally in the two classrooms were alive from the time the shooting began inside the classrooms to when four officers made entry — which lasted 1 hour and 17 minutes.

By then, the Times reported, 60 officers had assembled at the scene.

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robb elementary school
A makeshift memorial outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 children and two adults were fatally shot May 24. Michael M. Santiago/Getty

Three days after the tragedy, Col. Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told the press that that approximately 20 officers waited in a hallway for more than 45 minutes before engaging the shooter inside a locked classroom. McCraw stressed that the wrong decision had been made in the moment.

"From the benefit of hindsight where I'm sitting now, of course, it was not the right decision," McCraw said of the delay in entering, where panicked students called 911.

"It was a wrong decision. There's no excuse for that. We believe there should have been an entry as soon as you can," he explained. "When there's an active shooter, the rules change."

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 robbschoolmemorialfund@gmail.com. People can also donate by calling 830-356-2273.

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