Uvalde shooting hearing: School police chief ‘put the lives of officers ahead of ... children’

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas public safety chief testified at a state Senate hearing Tuesday, saying that the Uvalde police response was an “abject failure.”

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The Associated Press said Col. Steve McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, testified at a state Senate hearing on how the police handled the shooting on May 24 at Robb Elementary School that left 19 students and two teachers dead.

Law enforcement officials, according to the AP, had enough officers on the scene on the day of the shooting that could have stopped the gunman three minutes after he entered the building. Officers who had rifles with them waited in the school hallway for almost an hour, according to the AP. That response time has become a huge focus for investigations across the state, nationally and even locally.

According to the New York Times, McCraw said the classrooms were only able to be locked from the outside and there was no way of locking the door from the inside. He also said that a teacher at the school thought that the doors were broken prior to the shooting and had requested it be fixed.

>> Read: Texas school shooting: Tactical unit held back from entering by local police, officials say

According to the AP, McCraw said about eight minutes after the shooter entered the school, an officer reported that police had a crowbar that could break down the classroom door.

McCraw told the committee that the Uvalde school district police chief, Pete Arredondo, “decided to put the lives of officers ahead of the lives of children,” according to the AP. He also told the committee that the classrooms were unable to be locked from the inside.

According to the AP, three days following the shooting, McCraw said that Arredondo made “the wrong decision” when he chose to wait 70 minutes before storming the classroom.

>> Read: Texas school shooting: Child called 911 asking to send police; commander made ‘wrong decision

McCraw also confirmed to the committee that Arredondo did not have his radio with him. The only ones who had working radios were Border Patrol agents but even then, their radios didn’t work well inside the school, according to the AP. The police and sheriff’s radios did not work within the school.

According to the AP, Arredondo said after the shooting that he didn’t consider himself as the person in charge and “assumed someone else had taken control of the law enforcement response.”

McCraw also revealed in his testimony that the husband of the teacher, Eva Mireles, who died in the shooting, Ruben Ruiz is a police officer for the school district was at the school after the gunman went into the school, according to KSAT.

McCraw said Mireles called Ruiz and told him she was shot. Ruiz tried to move into the school to get to her but was detained, his weapon was taken away, and he was taken away from the school, according to KSAT.

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin released a statement, according to WFAA, stating that the city will not be commenting on the investigation and that the city has not been given any information on the investigation from DPS and the district attorney.

According to Reuters, McLaughlin said that the Uvalde County district attorney asked the city to not release any records related to their investigation.

“The premature release of anything related to the May 24 Department of Public Safety (DPS)/Texas Rangers investigation or Critical Incident Review by the Department of Justice is a disservice to the families who lost children or parents because the true facts need to come out once all investigations/reviews which the city expects will be thorough and fair, are complete,” McLaughlin said a statement, according to WFAA.