The nation is still reeling from its most devastating school shooting in ten years in which a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers. The shock is compounded by the search for a solution to one of America’s grisliest and most globally unique terrors and, as more reporting emerges, questions about what exactly happened at this one.
A combination of eyewitness testimony, footage and police statements are raising troubling questions about the actions of the Uvalde Police Department. Onlookers say they urged police to go in after the gunman after he slipped into the school, where he remained inside for 40 to 60 minutes while police waited outside. One eyewitness said he saw women screaming, “Go in there! Go in there!” while officers waited.
Purported video taken at the scene appears to show police stopping other adults attempting to mount their own rescue effort. Javier Cazares told the AP that he had tried to talk others into rushing the school. “Let’s just rush in because the cops aren’t doing anything like they are supposed to,” he said. “More could have been done.”
Cazares’ fourth grade daughter Jacklyn was killed in the attack.
“They were unprepared,” he told the AP.
Officials say the gunman “encountered” a school district security officer as he ran into Robb Elementary, but reports are conflicted as to whether there were any shots fired at that point. The gunman ran inside the school building and fired upon two officers arriving at the scene. He then barricaded himself inside a classroom while police waited outside.
A law enforcement official said the gunman locked the door and border patrol agents on the scene were unable to open it until a school employee arrived with a key. Then, the team engaged the gunman, fatally shooting him.
The duration of the gunman’s massacre while police waited outside has many questioning if more could have been done. Ever since the 1999 mass shooting in Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, the standard operating procedure for most police departments has been to make contact as soon as possible instead of assuming a hostage situation and waiting for backup. It remains unclear why that didn’t happen in Uvalde.
In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that police departments do not have a Constitutional duty to protect civilians.