It was because the shooter was using an AR-15, and the cops didn’t want to get slaughtered.
Almost a year after Texas’ deadliest school shooting killed 19 children and two teachers, there is still confusion among investigators, law enforcement leaders and politicians over how nearly 400 law enforcement officers could have performed so poorly. People have blamed cowardice or poor leadership or a lack of sufficient training for why police waited more than an hour to breach the classroom and subdue an amateur 18-year-old adversary.
But in their own words, during and after their botched response, the officers pointed to another reason: They were unwilling to confront the rifle on the other side of the door.
A Texas Tribune investigation, based on police body cameras, emergency communications and interviews with investigators that have not been made public, found officers had concluded that immediately confronting the gunman would be too dangerous. Even though some officers were armed with the same rifle, they opted to wait for the arrival of a Border Patrol SWAT team, with more protective body armor, stronger shields and more tactical training — even though the unit was based more than 60 miles away.
“You knew that it was definitely an AR,” Uvalde Police Department Sgt. Donald Page said in an interview with investigators after the school shooting. “There was no way of going in. … We had no choice but to wait and try to get something that had better coverage where we could actually stand up to him.”
“We weren’t equipped to make entry into that room without several casualties,” Uvalde Police Department Detective Louis Landry said in a separate investigative interview. He added, “Once we found out it was a rifle he was using, it was a different game plan we would have had to come up with. It wasn’t just going in guns blazing, the Old West style, and take him out.”
Uvalde school district Police Chief Pete Arredondo, who was fired in August after state officials cast him as the incident commander and blamed him for the delay in confronting the gunman, told investigators the day after the shooting he chose to focus on evacuating the school over breaching the classroom because of the type of firearm the gunman used.
“We’re gonna get scrutinized (for) why we didn’t go in there,” Arredondo said. “I know the firepower he had, based on what shells I saw, the holes in the wall in the room next to his. … The preservation of life, everything around (the gunman), was a priority.”
None of the officers quoted in this story agreed to be interviewed by the Tribune.
That hesitation to confront the gun allowed the gunman to terrorize students and teachers in two classrooms for more than an hour without interference from police. It delayed medical care for more than two dozen gunshot victims, including three who were still alive when the Border Patrol team finally ended the shooting but who later died.
Mass shooting protocols adopted by law enforcement nationwide call on officers to stop the attacker as soon as possible. But police in other mass shootings — including at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida — also hesitated to confront gunmen armed with AR-15-style rifles.
Even if the law enforcement response had been flawless and police had immediately stopped the gunman, the death toll in Uvalde still would have been significant. Investigators concluded most victims were killed in the minutes before police arrived.
But in the aftermath of the shooting, there has been little grappling with the role the gun played. Texas Republicans, who control every lever of state government, have talked about school safety, mental health and police training — but not gun control.
There’s more, so go read the rest. That includes a note that the House committee report on the law enforcement response to the Uvalde massacre didn’t include any of these quotes from the officers present, and it also includes a deeply stupid and offensive quote from the deeply stupid and offensive Sen. Bob Hall. While the news of the cops’ hesitation to run into AR-15 fire is something we hadn’t heard before, the rest of this isn’t new at all. Mostly, we know what we’re not going to get from this Legislature and our state leaders. It’s just a matter of what we do about that.
Look, if we banned AR-15s and anything like them today and then began an aggressive program to buy them back and/or confiscate them, there would still be AR-15s and other guns like them out there. But there would be fewer of them, and that would lower the risk. If even the so-called “good guys with a gun” don’t want anything to do with a bad guy with an AR-15, then I don’t know what else we could do that might have the same effect. Like I said, it’s up to us. Daily Kos has more.