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Uvalde Classroom Was Unlocked, TX Official Says in Heated Hearing

Officers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Tx., last month had nothing barring them from entering a dual classroom where a shooter was gunning down students and teachers, the chief of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) said. The classroom door wasn’t locked, DPS Director Steven McCraw told a Texas Senate committee Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reports. He said police officers armed with rifles and protected by body armor were on the scene within three minutes. Even had the door been secured, McCraw said, officers had tools to break it open. Yet they waited an hour and 14 minutes to go into the classroom, despite hearing ongoing gunshots, knowing children had been shot inside and knowing that at least one teacher shot was still alive. On May 24, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos walked into Robb Elementary School, hunkered in a dual classroom and killed 19 fourth-graders and two teachers. The first 911 call regarding the shooter came in at 11:30 a.m. A Border Patrol tactical team ultimately killed the shooter at 12:50 p.m.

McCraw again placed the blame for the failed response on the head of the school police, Pete Arredondo, who served as incident commander. The school police chief has said that he had desperately wanted to save children and tried dozens of keys to find one that would unlock the classroom door. During a heated Uvalde City Council meeting after the testimony Tuesday, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin accused McCraw of misstating information to distance his own department from the response. “Col. McCraw has an agenda and it’s not to present a full report of what happened and give factual answers back to this community,” said McLaughlin, adding, “The gloves are off.” The mayor said he had been unable to get information on the investigation since the Uvalde County district attorney, Christina Mitchell Busbee, ordered agencies not to release anything. “Maybe the headlines are going to be ‘City of Uvalde sues DPS,’ ‘City sues district attorney for information,’ he said. “Because we damn sure aren’t getting it any other way.”

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