America is still trying to make sense of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, as details continue to surface. But many questions remain unanswered. Law enforcement’s response to the assault has been under close scrutiny as many are questioning their handling of the situation. Also, the fact that there are contradicting accounts that have not yet been reconciled is raising more than a few eyebrows among members of the chattering class.
So far, at least, a few facts that have been cleared up. For starters, Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told reporters on May 25 that a school resource officer engaged the gunman before he entered Robb Elementary. This detail was also conveyed to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
It turned out this is not what happened. In another press conference, Texas DPS Regional Director Victor Escalon walked back that claim and explained that no officer confronted the shooter before he entered the campus.
DPS officials also confirmed that law enforcement made no attempt to gain entry into the classroom in which the shooter had locked himself for about an hour after arriving on the scene. They maintain officers believed the incident had transitioned from an active shooting to a barricaded subject situation.
“The on-scene commander considered it a barricaded subject and that there was time, and there were no more children at risk,” McCraw told reporters on May 27. “Obviously, based upon the information we have, there were children in that classroom that were at risk, and it was in fact still an active shooter situation and not a barricaded subject.”
This claim seems to be contradicted by the fact that several students had called 911 to report the shooting. However, it is still not clear whether the commanding officer knew about the emergency calls. But “the new details given by Mitchell, the county judge, show that at least one officer at the scene was speaking to someone inside a classroom,” according to the Insider news website.
The shooting began at 11:31 a.m. It wasn’t until 12:50 when Border Patrol agents entered the classroom and killed the gunman. By that time, one student had called 911 at least four more times.
Previously, it was reported that a teacher had left an external door propped open. This was believed to be how the shooter gained entry. This detail has been debunked. DPS officials explained that the door had actually been closed before the gunman arrived. During an interview with NewsNation on May 30, the teacher said she “opened the door, kicked the rock, and then locked [the door].”
However, on May 31, investigators affirmed that after the teacher propped the door open, she then removed the rock and shut the door as the gunman approached – but the door did not lock automatically as it was supposed to, according to DPS.
It is likely there will be more corrections. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is set to conduct an investigation into law enforcement’s handling of the attack. NBC News reported:
“Investigators are expected to gather all sorts of information that has yet to be shared publicly — 911 calls, phone calls, dispatch records, radio transmissions, body camera video, security video and interviews with officers, witnesses and victims — and combine them into a detailed account of the police response.”
Federal authorities will look into what officers and commanders knew as the situation progressed. They will also examine the type of training local law enforcement authorities received leading up to the incident and will create a set of guidelines for preventing similar failures in the future. Perhaps the findings will also assist police departments in other cities. If there is any that could possibly be described as a silver lining to this tragedy, there is the possibility that at least some law enforcement agencies will take lessons to heart that will help them save lives in the future.
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