Texas public safety official: Police response to Uvalde shooting was an 'abject failure'

Steven McCraw.
(Image credit: CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

Texas' Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw on Tuesday described the police response to last month's shooting at Robb Elementary School as "an abject failure" that unfolded at odds with "everything we have learned over the past two decades," The New York Times reports.

Speaking before a special state Senate committee, McCraw, head of the Texas State Police, said that authorities had enough equipment to storm the classroom in which the gunman was holed up mere minutes after he began shooting. But the on-scene commander — Pete Arredondo — "decided to put the lives of officers ahead of the lives of children," McCraw alleged, adding that Arredondo waited around "for a key that was never needed." Arredondo has said previously that he did not see himself as the one in charge, and that he and another officer felt it best to wait to confront the shooter after determining the doors to the classrooms were locked.

But those doors did not lock from the inside, McCraw claimed Tuesday. "I don't believe, based on the information that we have right now, that that door was ever secured," he went on. "The door was unsecured."

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It's dangerous to act against the orders of an incident commander in an emergency, which is why troopers didn't take over for Arredondo, the director continued. But that one police agency failed means all law enforcement failed that day.

"I don't mean to be hyper-critical of the on-scene commander," McCraw said. "But those are the facts… this set our profession back a decade."

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