Texas Official: Police Made 'Wrong Decision' at Shooting

On-site commander at Uvalde shooting faulted for decision to wait before moving in
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2022 12:39 PM CDT
Texas Police Official: 'It Was the Wrong Decision. Period'
Esmeralda Bravo, 63, sheds tears while holding a photo of her granddaughter, Nevaeh, one of the Robb Elementary School shooting victims.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

(Newser) – A top Texas law enforcement official said Friday what angry parents have said all along about the delayed police response to the mass shooting in Uvalde: "It was the wrong decision. Period," said Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw, reports the Washington Post. At a news conference, McCraw said the on-site commander made a bad call in the heat of the moment. "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" to get into the classroom at Robb Elementary, per the AP. The commander appeared to believe the shooting had turned into a hostage situation, per the Post.

As a result, about 20 officers stood in the school hallway outside the door for about 45 minutes before a master key was retrieved and a tactical unit arrived. Meanwhile, young survivors inside were calling 911 and pleading for help. (CNN has a firsthand account of one girl who called.) “Obviously, based on the information we have, there were children in that classroom that were still at risk,” said McCraw, per the New York Times. “From the benefit of hindsight where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision. Period.” It's not known how many, or if any, victims were killed as police waited. McCraw said there was a flurry of gunshots when the gunman first entered the classroom, then "sporadic" gunfire over the ensuing 48 minutes.

The incident commander has been identified only as the school district's chief of police. McCraw also revealed that a police officer with the district mistakenly "drove right by the suspect" at the start of the assault and instead pursued a person who turned out to be a teacher. The news conference Friday was described as both tense and emotional. At one point, when asked what he would say to the parents of victims, he responded: “What do I say to the parents? I don’t have anything to say to the parents, other than what happened. We are not here to defend what happened, we are here to report the facts.” He added: "If I thought it would help, I would apologize." (Read more Uvalde mass shooting stories.)

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