Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), cracked down on how the Uvalde School Police Chief handled last month’s shooting at Robb Elementary School, saying some officers wanted to approach the gunman sooner, including a school district police officer whose wife was murdered in the massacre.
That officer, Ruben Ruiz, got a call from his wife, Eva Mireles, who told him she had been shot.
“He was trying to come forward in the hallway,” McCraw said during a Senate hearing on Tuesday. “He was arrested and they took his gun from him and escorted him off the scene.”
Mireles died later in an ambulance on the way to a hospital.
While McCraw criticized the school’s chief of police, Pete Arredondo, for not confronting the gunman before, Texas State Senators pressed McCraw when asked why DPS officers on the ground did not take charge.
“I seem to be hypercritical of the commander on the ground, and that’s not my intention, but the facts are the facts, mistakes were made. It should never have happened like this,” McCraw said in the Texas State Capitol on Tuesday. , in which he accused Arredondo of “putting the lives of officers before the lives of children”.
Law enforcement officers released the most detailed timeline yet on Tuesday last month’s recordings in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two adults.
Nine officers, including at least two with guns, entered the school at 11:36 a.m., three minutes after the gunman entered the school and began firing in classrooms 111 and 112.
additional officers arrived at 11:52 a.m. with the first ballistic shield, while two more shields were on the scene shortly after noon.
Despite this, Arredondo waited more than an hour for more firepower, tactical gear and a key to unlock the classroom door, which was unnecessary because the door was locked the entire time, McCraw said Tuesday.
Video: Texas DPS admits mistakes in Uvalde’s response
Multiple DPS agents and officers arrived at the scene within minutes of the shooting, leaving Special Committee senators to question why they didn’t take control.
“When you get into situations like this, lives are at stake. Within 5 to 10 minutes you know what’s going on. You know whoever is in charge is not making the right decisions. You have to take over and take command of the situation,” Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa said Tuesday.
McCraw replied that the commander on site is “the official who has jurisdiction”.
“That’s through practice and doctrine,” McCraw said. “The sheriff and chief of police of Uvalde Police also lined up and said yes, he is the commander on the scene.”
According to the updated timeline released by the police, at least one DPS special agent appears to be bothered by the lack of action on the ground.
“If there are kids there, we have to go in there,” a DPS special agent repeated twice at 11:56 AM.
An unknown officer replied, “Whoever is in charge will decide that.”
More than 70 minutes passed before a border patrol tactical team broke into the classroom and knocked out the gunman, a delay McCraw called an “abject failure.”
“Three minutes after the suspect entered the western building, there was a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract and neutralize the subject,” McCraw said. “The only thing that kept a corridor of dedicated officers from entering rooms 111 and 112 was the commander on site, who decided to put the lives of officers before the lives of children.”
Arredondo, in his only public comment since the shooting, told The Texas Tribune that he did not consider himself the site commander.
“I have not given orders,” Arredondo told the news channel. “I called for help and asked for an extraction tool to open the door.”