The video footage, audio, and events described in this story about the Uvalde school shooting are disturbing. Discretion is advised. This exclusive story and video are being made available free of charge as a public service. If you value strong journalism from the American-Statesman, support us by subscribing. You can read more about our decision to publish this video here.
The gunman walks into Robb Elementary School unimpeded, moments after spraying bullets from his semi-automatic rifle outside the building and after desperate calls to 911 from inside and outside the Uvalde school.
He slows down to peek around a corner in the hallway and flips back his hair before proceeding toward classrooms 111 and 112.
Seconds later, a boy with neatly combed hair and glasses exits the bathroom to head back to his class. As he begins to turn the corner, he notices the gunman standing by the classroom door and then firing his first barrage.
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The boy turns and runs back into the bathroom.
The gunman enters one of the classrooms. Children scream. The gunfire continues, stops, then starts again. Stops, then start again. And again. And again.
It is almost three minutes before three officers arrive in the same hallway and rush toward the classrooms, crouching down. Then, a burst of gunfire. One officer grabs the back of his head. They quickly retreat to the end of the hallway, just below a school surveillance camera.
A 77-minute video recording captured from this vantage point, along with body camera footage from one of the responding officers, obtained by the American-Statesman and KVUE, shows in excruciating detail dozens of sworn officers, local, state, and federal — heavily armed, clad in body armor, with helmets, some with protective shields — walking back and forth in the hallway, some leaving the camera frame and then reappearing, others training their weapons toward the classroom, talking, making cellphone calls, sending texts and looking at floor plans, but not entering or attempting to enter the classrooms.
The Statesman is publishing an edited version of the video to show how the law enforcement response unfolded.
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The video tells in real time the brutal story of how heavily armed officers failed to immediately launch a cohesive and aggressive response to stop the shooter and save more children if possible. And it reinforces the trauma of those parents, friends, and bystanders who were outside the school and pleaded with police to do something, and for those survivors who quietly called 911 from inside the classroom to beg for help.
Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw has said that the person he identified as the incident commander, school district Police Chief Pete Arredondo, treated the situation as a barricaded subject, which calls for a slower, methodical response, not an active shooter situation, in which police are charged with doing anything possible to stop a gunman, including putting their own lives on the line. That was a mistake, McCraw has said. Officers should have confronted the gunman as soon as they arrived, carrying enough firepower to breach the classroom and stop the shooting, McCraw has said.
McCraw has singled out Arredondo for blame in restraining officers from going in earlier than they did. But the video shows multiple responding agencies on the scene, including officers from the Uvalde Police Department, Uvalde County sheriff’s department, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Rangers, U.S. Border Patrol, and U.S. Marshals Service.
The video file obtained by the Statesman, part of the investigative file, includes security video footage from a nearby funeral home showing the gunman arriving at the school by wrecking a pickup in a ditch and includes audio of 911 calls and officers speaking in the hallway, as well as the sound of gunfire.