I’ve never seen a cop throw another cop under the bus like this in public testimony.
But then, Texas DPS chief Steve McCraw was fed so much BS by responding officers about what happened during the standoff — much of which he regurgitated to the press — that he may have treated this morning’s testimony before the Texas legislature as payback time.
McCraw confirmed the bombshell reporting from this weekend that the doors to rooms 111 and 112 at Robb Elementary apparently weren’t locked. The cops, who had solid firepower on the scene within 20 minutes of the shooting starting, simply stood there for an hour in the hallway. They could have gone in and confronted the gunman at any time.
How many kids died in those classrooms while heavily armed police on the other side of the door did nothing? How long did the screaming of the wounded go on while they waited?
Normally you’d expect the logic of the “thin blue line” to lead McCraw to try to make excuses for the delay, maybe attributing it to a “miscommunication” or “poor organization” or whatever. Not so. He lays the moral blame squarely in the lap of the “on-scene commander,” an apparent reference to Pete Arredondo (who claims he didn’t know he was the on-scene commander), saying starkly that the commander placed the lives of officers above those of children.
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw: "There's compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure and antithetical to everything we've learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre." pic.twitter.com/0SSyqT53il
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 21, 2022
McCraw said one teacher previously had put in a request to fix the locks on the classroom doors, which apparently weren’t working. It was the shooter’s dumb luck, it seems, that he stumbled upon those doors. But once he was inside, there was no way for him to keep the cops out. They just … didn’t go in.
I don’t know how Arredondo can ever go back to work in Uvalde, where he’s currently a newly elected city councilman. More from the Times:
The outline presented by Mr. McCraw confirmed details first reported by The New York Times over a series of articles during the past month, including that the officers who first arrived inside the school — two minutes after the gunman — had AR-15-style rifles that could have been used against the gunman; that a school district police officer informed other officers at 11:48 a.m. that his wife, a teacher, had been shot but was still alive inside the classroom, providing them with a clear indication that people inside the classroom were in urgent need of help; and that shields that could have been used to protect officers making an entry into the classroom had arrived outside the classroom before 12 p.m., nearly an hour before officers finally went in.
Mr. McCraw also presented new details, such as the exact time that Chief Arredondo went into the school, at 11:36 a.m., three minutes after the gunman entered the classrooms and began firing.
Here’s the official timeline McCraw used. Click to enlarge:
Uvalde update. We have it in writing.
Here’s the latest timeline that officials will be presenting at the senate hearing today. pic.twitter.com/iOKkwnXEkL
— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) June 21, 2022
Note that at least two shots were fired inside the classroom while cops were in the hallway. And of course, the wounded on the other side of the door were bleeding out all the while. “This set our profession back a decade. That’s what it did,” McCraw told the legislature.
Here’s an interesting question which I doubt we’ll ever have answered: Who leaked the surveillance footage of cops in the hallway?
BREAKING: Multiple officers were inside Robb Elementary School with rifles and at least one ballistic shield at 11:52 a.m. the day of the shooting, new video and other evidence shows. They didn’t enter the classroom for another 58 minutes. More soon via @statesman and @KVUE. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/0BcYgq2hcQ
— Tony Plohetski (@tplohetski) June 20, 2022
In light of how angry McCraw was today and how outrageous Uvalde’s attempts to suppress information about the shooting have been, I’m guessing some officials (or cops?) with access to the footage are so furious at what they’ve seen that they wanted to make sure the officers on the scene were duly shamed for what happened. Reporters and even local parents are being kept out of city hearings that are purportedly aimed at accountability:
Reporters were asked to leave Uvalde City Hall because people are intimidated by us. Texas legislators are meeting here with law enforcement behind closed doors. The fire marshal also told a local chaplain and father of a victim to exit from the building. pic.twitter.com/ukyTmtHbOt
— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) June 20, 2022
The public was allowed in for the start of the hearing, when the committee chair made his opening statement — but then were kicked out before witnesses began testifying. Between Arredondo’s lies about the classroom doors being locked and the other misinformation shared initially by McCraw and other police officials (remember the lie that a teacher had propped open an outside door, allowing the shooter access?), it looks like a cover-up is in full swing here. Or was, until the leaks of the past few days blew it apart.
I wonder what McCraw’s testimony today would have been like if the public hadn’t already heard about the classroom doors not being locked and the cops in the hallway having been heavily armed.