‘It was the wrong decision’: Officials admit police failures amid intense scrutiny of Uvalde shooting response

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Texas school shooting.

UVALDE, Texas – A top state law enforcement official admitted Friday that local police failed in their response to a mass shooter who took the lives of 21 people, including 19 children, at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas Tuesday.

In the shooting’s immediate aftermath, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other state officials praised what they called a “quick response” of local law enforcement, but a new timeline reveals police waited more than an hour after arriving to the scene to enter the classroom where the massacre was taking place.

A top state law enforcement official admitted Friday that local police failed in their response to a mass shooter who took the lives of 21 people, including 19 children, at an elementary school in Uvalde Texas Tuesday.

Instead of entering the classroom right away, 19 officers stood in the hallway waiting for a set of janitor keys to open the door.

“From the benefit of hindsight, where I’m sitting now, of course it wasn’t the right decision,” Texas Department of Public Safety Col. Steven McCraw said. “It was the wrong decision. Very wrong. There is no excuse for that.”

McCraw said local police were under the impression that the shooter was barricaded inside the classroom in an attempt to ambush police rather than actively shooting students and teachers, despite numerous 911 calls from children and teachers pleading for help after police arrived.

“There was a barrage, 100 rounds pumped in four minutes into those two classrooms, anything after that was sporadic and at the door, so the belief is there may not be anyone living anymore and the subject is trying to keep (police) at bay or entice them to come in,” he said.

This is a rough timeline of 911 calls placed by a person in room 112:

  • 12:03 - call lasted 23 seconds, person called back seven minutes later, telling police there were several people dead
  • The caller places two calls and says there are about eight or nine students still alive
  • 12:21 - another 911 call records 3 gun shots

Several of the young survivors of the shooting have shared accounts of what happened.

“When he went in the classroom he said ‘You’re all going to die,’” a young boy said. “He just started shooting. I was playing dead so he wouldn’t shoot me.”

It’s still unclear how the gunman barricaded himself inside. Police are investigating whether he was merely locking the doors or if he used something to block the doors.

Another little girl said she heard the gunman say “good night” before shooting her teacher. She said he then stopped shooting and, at one point, played what she described as “sad music.”

Police said Friday the shooter fired more than 100 rounds at the school. They also said they found 58 magazines in the school and 31 in a backpack he didn’t take in.


About the Authors:

Bridgette Matter joined the Local 10 News team as a reporter in July 2021. Before moving to South Florida, she began her career in South Bend, Indiana and spent six years in Jacksonville as a reporter and weekend anchor.

Chris Gothner joined the Local 10 News team in 2022 as a Digital Journalist.