Almost a year after Texas’ deadliest school shooting killed 19 children and two teachers, there is confusion among investigators, law enforcement leaders and politicians over how nearly 400 law enforcement officers could have performed so poorly. People have blamed cowardice, poor leadership or a lack of sufficient training for why police waited more than an hour to breach the classroom and subdue an amateur 18-year-old adversary, the Texas Tribune reports. In their own words, during and after their botched response, the officers pointed to another reason: They were unwilling to confront the rifle on the other side of the door. A Texas Tribune investigation, based on police body cameras, emergency communications and interviews with investigators that have not been made public, found officers had concluded that immediately confronting the gunman would be too dangerous. Even though some officers were armed with the same rifle, they opted to wait for the arrival of a Border Patrol SWAT team, with more protective body armor, stronger shields and more tactical training — even though the unit was based more than 60 miles away.
“You knew that it was definitely an AR,” Uvalde Police Sgt. Donald Page told investigators after the school shooting. “There was no way of going in. … We had no choice but to wait and try to get something that had better coverage where we could actually stand up to him.” “We weren’t equipped to make entry into that room without several casualties,” Uvalde Police Detective Louis Landry said in a separate interview. He added, “Once we found out it was a rifle he was using, it was a different game plan we would have had to come up with. It wasn’t just going in guns blazing, the Old West style, and take him out.” Uvalde school Police Chief Pete Arredondo, who was fired in August after state officials cast him as the incident commander and blamed him for the delay in confronting the gunman, told investigators the day after the shooting he chose to focus on evacuating the school over breaching the classroom because of the type of firearm the gunman used.