Police waited an hour in Uvalde because they feared gunman’s AR-15, investigation finds
During a 2022 school shooting where 19 children were killed, police officers in Uvalde, Texas, hesitated to enter the classroom where gunman Salvador Ramos was barricaded because they were afraid they were outgunned by his AR-15-style rifle, according to an investigation from the Texas Tribune, even though some of them had the same weapon.
“What’s the safest way to do this? I’m not trying to get clapped out,” one officer can be heard saying on radio communications obtained by the publication. “Me neither.”
“We just, we had no choice but to wait and try to get some, something that had better coverage to where we could actually stand up for him,” another officer said, in a videotaped interview as part of the department’s internal investigation of the incident.
The decision not to swiftly confront the shooter may have potentially delayed medical care to some of the survivors of the tragedy, and left Ramos in a classroom of panicked children for more than an hour before a Border Patrol SWAT team was able to arrive, then neutralise the gunman.
The Independent has contacted the Uvalde police department for comment.
Police tactics during the school shooting have come under heavy scrutiny.
Even with an eventual force of nearly 400 officers, it took police more than an hour to locate and kill Ramos, not before 19 children and two teachers were shot to death, the second deadliest school shooting in US history.
In August of 2022, Uvalde school police chief Pete Arredondo was fired. State officials had previously called Mr Arredondo’s leadership an “abject failure.”
In a report the previous month, Texas lawmakers concluded the Uvalde massacre was worsened by a series of “systemic failures” and “egregious” decisions by police.
Uvalde school police had conducted active shooter training just weeks before the massacre, and had invested heavily in security and training in previous years, but appeared unprepared for an active shooter situation.
Mr Arredondo initially lacked a radio and asked for one to be brought to him. Officers never tried to open a door into the classroom where Ramos was hiding either, believing it was locked and instead waiting for a key.