This story is part of a KXAN series of reports called “Stop Mass Shootings,” providing context and exploring solutions surrounding gun violence in the wake of the deadly Uvalde school shooting. We want our reports to be a resource for Texans, as well as for lawmakers who are convening a month after the events in Uvalde to discuss how the state should move forward. Explore all “Stop Mass Shootings” stories by clicking here.
Editor’s note: Texas DPS previously said the door at Robb Elementary was left open. On May 31, DPS corrected that statement, saying a teacher closed the door but it didn’t lock. This story has been updated to reflect that change. Check here for more updates.
UVALDE, Texas (KXAN) — Public safety officials on Friday revealed responding officers for Tuesday’s Uvalde school shooting made no attempts to breach a classroom to rescue the children inside from an active shooter for about an hour, because it was believed the incident had turned into a barricaded subject call.
The 18-year-old shooter with a rifle killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School that day.
Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw said during the time law enforcement was waiting to breach the classroom, children pleaded on the phone with 911 at least twice to send in police.
McCraw explained at 11:31 a.m., the gunman fired shots outside the school, then entered the building at 11:33 a.m. and began firing into classrooms. McCraw said a teacher had propped open the door before the shooter came into the school, but it was supposed to be locked.
On May 31, investigators clarified that statement saying the teacher removed the rock and closed the door, but it didn’t lock.
McCraw said as many as 19 law enforcement officers gathered 20 minutes later in the hallway around 11:53 a.m.
“The on-scene commander considered it a barricaded subject and that there was time, and there were no more children at risk,” McCraw said. “Obviously based upon the information we have, there were children in that classroom that were at risk, and it was in fact still an active shooter situation and not a barricaded subject.”
By 12:15 p.m., tactical team members arrived with shields, McCraw said. At 12:43 and 12:47 p.m., kids in the classroom with the shooter begged 911 to send in police.
The classroom was not breached until 12:50 p.m., McCraw said, when law enforcement used a janitor’s keys to open the adjoining classroom doors. The officers then killed the gunman, McCraw said.
McCraw agreed Friday law enforcement at the scene did not respond appropriately.
“From the benefit of hindsight where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision. It was a wrong decision, period. There’s no excuse for that. But again, I wasn’t there, but I’m just telling you from what we know, we believe there should’ve been an entry as soon as you can,” McCraw said.
Law enforcement has been criticized for providing an unclear timeline of what happened during the Tuesday shooting.
Although McCraw said Wednesday the shooter encountered a Uvalde CISD officer as he was entering the school, Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Victor Escalon clarified Thursday the gunman did not come across a school officer before he walked “unobstructed” through a door that appeared to be unlocked.
McCraw also revealed the shooter asked his sister in September 2021 if she could help him buy a gun. She refused. The shooter also engaged in a few Instagram chats where school shootings and purchasing a gun were mentioned.