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Uvalde Shooting Update: Tragedy, Good Work, and Unimaginable Error


Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw speaks during a press conference held outside Robb Elementary School on Friday, May 27, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. Nearly 20 officers stood in a hallway outside of the classrooms during this week’s attack on a Texas elementary school for more than 45 minutes before agents used a master key to open a door and confront a gunman, authorities said Friday. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

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Earlier today Texas Department of Public Safety Steve McCraw gave an update on the timeline and chain of events of the recent school shooting in Uvalde. His statements were, to put it mildly, jaw dropping.

After reviewing much of the video evidence, we now know how the shooter gained easy access into the school.

A teacher had propped a door open.

We don’t know why yet, and there’s no reason to assume any collusion, but the teacher tragically propped a door open roughly one minute before the shooter crashed his truck and began the attack.

The shooter then walked for 40 to 60 feet, unopposed, into an open pair of classrooms.

According to the DPS director, the shooter then fired “more than 100 rounds…at least 100 rounds”.

Within two minutes of entering the school, three Uvalde Police Department officers attempted to open the locked school room door and were fired on, receiving what would be non-life threatening wounds. They then called for backup.

While those three officers were attempting to get to the shooter, two volunteer officers and a Sheriff’s deputy began evacuating the school.

At that point, things went from bad to much, much worse.

The on-scene incident commander, who appears to be the school district police chief, notifies on-scene and arriving officers that the “active shooter” incident is over, and now they have a “barricaded subject” situation.

In the words of DPS Director McCraw:

He was convinced at the time that there was no more threat to the children and that the subject was barricaded and that they had time to organize.

Of course, it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision.

It is not yet known how such an incredibly bad call was made. Even as at least one student inside the classroom was speaking with a 911 dispatcher, the on-scene commander apparently told everyone there was no more danger to the children, according to what McCraw said today at his press conference.

At one point during that time there were additional shots fired, but at least some, and maybe all, of those shots were at the door itself. We don’t yet know if any kids were shot as the officers remained outside the classroom.

Staff were looking for a janitor with a key, negotiations with the shooter had started, and officers staged for entry.

McCraw’s report today sheds light on why officers outside were waiting. They were being told that there was no more threat to the children. They were told that the shots they heard were being fired at the officers at the door. That was at least half wrong.

We don’t know why yet, but someone, and we don’t know who or exactly when, finally made the call that it was in-fact still an active shooter event, countermanding the original assessment from the on-scene commander.

A tactical team, using the key they’d obtained and led by CPS Border Tactical Agents, stormed the room and killed the shooter. One of the entry team members took a grazing shot to the head upon entry.

As for how the shooter got his weapons, according to DPS, a young man, who had recently quit his job at Wendy’s, used a debit card to purchase two rifles (at least one of which was an $1,800 Daniel Defense AR), 60 magazines, and over 1,600 rounds of ammunition, at least some of which were with him in his backpack.

Based on the evidence presented so far, this entire tragedy may have been stopped simply by keeping doors closed and locked. Complacency kills.

What also kills is bad assumptions, or maybe wanting a situation to be something it is not.  Either way, the on-site incident commander’s call to end the “active shooter” response and switch to a “barricaded suspect” role appears simply unimaginable, in hindsight. I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more about what factors led him to that deadly error in judgement.

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