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Tipsheet

Uvalde Police Blew Their Chance to Shoot School Shooter

AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills

We're learning more about the law enforcement response to the Uvalde shooting. It's not good. In fact, as more details are released, the more frustrating the story becomes. It's already soaked in tragedy. 

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Salvador Ramos entered Robb Elementary School on May 24 and killed 19 students, including two teachers. Ramos was later neutralized by police. He had shot his grandmother in the face before entering the school. The timeline for the police response has been a complete train wreck, being changed some 13 times. Initially, we were told that Ramos had barricaded himself inside one of the classrooms. It was locked, which led to officers, 19 of which were inside the building, waiting until a custodian's keys could be located. It took nearly an hour. The intelligence on the ground was that Ramos was holed up alone. That was wrong. 

There were kids inside the classroom, and it's quite possible the dilly-dallying on behalf of police cost scores of lives. It seems the police were afraid to get shot. They had the equipment necessary—CCTV footage shows that. They waited. The door was also not locked. They could have breached the door. Now, we're learning that police had a chance to shoot Ramos, but permission was not given due to the police supervisor not hearing the order or responding too late (via Axios): 

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Some of the 21 victims at Robb Elementary School, including 19 children, likely “could have been saved” on May 24, according to a report by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT), a Texas State University training center for active shooter situations.

Authors of the 26-page report said their findings were based on video from police body cameras, radio logs, video taken from the school, testimony from police officers on the scene and verbal statements from investigators. Among their findings:

An Uvalde police officer asked for a supervisor’s permission to shoot the gunman before he entered the building, but the supervisor did not hear the request or responded too late, per the report.

When the officer didn't hear a response, he turned to get confirmation from his supervisor. By the time the officer turned back towards the gunman, he had already entered the building, ALERRT found.

Police also waited too long — one hour, 11 minutes and 26 seconds — before taking action.

The report, which was requested by the Texas Department of Public Safety, noted that the officer would have been justified in using deadly force to stop the gunman.

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The police chief for the Uvalde schools, Pete Arredondo, also entered the building without his radio which experts have noted is a baffling decision. Amid the chaos, not having a radio appears to have exacerbated the communications issue. There were multiple law enforcement agencies outside. Arredondo was sworn in as a city council member in the aftermath of this tragedy, which is unseemly in the extreme. He recently resigned from his seat. 

The Texas Department of Public Safety has gone on record to say that the response was insufficient and that the order to essentially stand down was incorrect. In all, it was a series of unforced errors, bad intelligence, and poor communications that permitted Ramos to continue his rampage. It could have ended before he entered the school. 

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