DPS spokesman: Police 'could've been shot' and decided to 'contain the gunman' with his victims

Earlier today I posted a Today show interview with Texas Department of Public Safety Lieutenant Chris Olivarez. In the clip which was posted yesterday, he described the timeline of what happened at Robb Elementary School.


As questions about the police response have been raised today, Lt. Olivarez appeared on CNN at least three times to talk about the situation. This afternoon he appeared on Wolf Blitzer’s show. Wolf asked him directly about the police’s apparent failure to kill the gunman immediately.

Olivarez said officers were inside the school quickly, and they heard gunfire when they arrived. They called for reinforcements, he said. The officers in the building waited for a special tactical team to show up as they isolated the shooter to one classroom.

“Don’t current best practices, don’t they call for officers to disable a shooter as quickly as possible, regardless of how many officers are actually on site?” Blitzer asked him.

As I pointed out earlier, the recommendation from the FBI is that police should not wait to form a team or come up with a plan during an active shooter situation. Even if there’s only one officer on the scene, the best practice is to go in immediately and engage the shooter. So with that in mind, here is Lt. Olivarez’ full response to Blitzer’s question.

Correct, the active shooter situation, you want to stop the killing, you want to preserve life, but also one thing that – of course, the American people need to understand — that officers are making entry into this building. They do not know where the gunman is. They are hearing gunshots. They are receiving gunshots.

At that point, if they proceeded any further not knowing where the suspect was at, they could’ve been shot, they could’ve been killed, and that gunman would have had an opportunity to kill other people inside that school.

So they were able to contain that gunman inside that classroom so that he was not able to go to any other portions of the school to commit any other killings.


If this is actually the reasoning then this is a complete failure by the police. It ensured that the gunman’s victims had no chance to survive. They were dying while the police were making sure they didn’t put themselves in harm’s way.

I saw someone make this analogy on Twitter and I honestly can’t remember who it was but the idea was this: Imagine there’s a wild animal escape from a zoo and later the police spokesman comes forward to explain that they managed to contain a rampaging tiger in a classroom with a group of 10-year-olds, thereby saving the lives of everyone who wasn’t locked in the room with the tiger. Does anyone think that sounds like a successful outcome or a reasonable approach? I think most of us would conclude the police were either lunatics or a cowards or maybe a bit of both.

There were dozens of young children trapped in that room. Many of them had been shot already but not all of them died instantly. Some of them were on the floor bleeding and could have survived if they’d been given basic medical attention quickly. This isn’t just theoretical. MSNBC reporter Kerry Sanders reported today about a girl who bled out by the time rescue came:

As we know, when the officers finally got in, there was at least one child who had another child laying on top of her who was playing dead. That child who was below was bleeding but still breathing. That child was rushed to the hospital and later died. The parents will forever wonder when that one hour, that golden hour, when there’s a traumatic injury, whether their child would be alive today if only the officers had gotten in there and pulled her out and gotten her the emergency medical care at that moment.


There were dozens of police officers at that school from various agencies. If the police had continued to storm the door until the shooter was dead, that little girl and maybe some other kids in that room would still be alive. Instead, it sounds like someone made a decision to write off the lives of those children and settle for preserving the lives of armed officers.

We’ve already seen the story change a few times today. Maybe this story will change again tomorrow but if it doesn’t, if this is really what happened, then whoever made that decision ought to be out of a job.

The Wolf Blitzer clip doesn’t seem to be posted anywhere else so for now you’ll have to click over to Mediaite to watch it.

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