As an official timeline coalesces in tandem with relayed instructions on scene outside the Texas elementary school Tuesday, federal officers are now detailing how they had defied orders considered to be the “wrong decision.”
When the 18-year-old suspect first arrived at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX at 11:28 a.m., responders from various law enforcement agencies in the surrounding area answered the call. As previously reported, members of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) border patrol tactical unit BORTAC were delayed in entering the building after being told the situation had “transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject.”
That call was made by Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District chief of police Pete Arredondo who further instructed officers on the scene to delay entry into the building and await backup and tactical equipment.
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Now, two senior federal law enforcement officers told NBC News that after 30 minutes of heeding Arredondo’s instructions, they would no longer wait.
Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw had explained, “The on-scene commander at that time believed it had transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject. Obviously, based upon the information we have, children in that classroom were at risk and it was in fact still an active shooter… It was the wrong decision. Period.”
The BORTAC team allowed roughly 30 minutes to go by before making the decision to defy Arredondo, enter the building, and form up in the hallway outside the classroom where the suspect was said to have been barricaded in. When the classroom was breached, an official from CBP explained to The Washington Post that the suspect stepped out of a closet and began firing at the agents who returned fire and eliminated the threat.
McCraw went on to tell NBC News, “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 was no excuse for that. There were plenty of officers to do what needed to be done, with one exception, is that the incident commander inside believed he needed more equipment and more officers to do a tactical breach at that time.”
In the wake of the murder of 19 children and two teachers, the inaction of Arredondo was further criticized when Texas DPS Lt. Chris Olivarez defended the delay over concerns for the safety of the officers. Olivarez had said, “At that point, if they proceeded any further not knowing where the suspect was at, they could have been shot, they could have been killed, and at that point that gunman would have had an opportunity to kill other people inside that school.”
As one official went on to explain to The Washington Post of reaction from officers, “They have not told me they were frustrated. But they told me it was hard to discern who was in charge.”
Texas Monthly reported:
The agents immediately responded, arriving at the school just before noon. Bortac (Border Patrol Tactical Unit) is CBP’s’s paramilitary force, an elite group of agents trained to exchange gunfire with cartels. Border Patrol agents not in the SWAT unit also rushed to the school, for more personal reasons: their own children were in the building.
According to the CBP official, three Bortac agents engaged the shooter in gunfire — with one holding a shield — after entering Robb Elementary along with local and state law-enforcement officers. One Bortac agent was wounded, but not critically. The CBP official told Texas Monthly that it’s “unclear which bullet from which gun” struck the shooter and killed him.
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