Uvalde Surveillance Video Raises Even More Disturbing Questions About Law Enforcement Response

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It should be noted that the surveillance video from Robb Elementary School showing the slow-motion response of law enforcement to the tragedy taking place just feet away from where officers were monitoring the situation is difficult to endure — especially when you see law enforcement standing around while the gunmen pulled off dozens of shots.

This video, obtained by the Austin-American Statesman, does not include the sounds of screaming children. That part was edited out, thank goodness.

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.

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 gunman enters one of the classrooms. Children scream. The gunfire continues, stops, then starts again. Stops, then starts 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.

Officers entered the school three minutes after gunfire erupted. For 77 minutes, as onlookers outside and some law enforcement officers pleaded with police to enter the classrooms, nothing happened. Officers milled about with no sense of urgency or the moment. They weren’t scared as much as they were leaderless.

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The Statesman also published the entire, one-hour, twenty-two-minute video. For more than three minutes, the gunman fired sustained volleys inside two schoolrooms. It’s very difficult to watch.

What seems painfully and maddeningly clear is that no one was in charge. An officer casually walked across the hall and squirted hand sanitizer onto his hands and carefully washed them. Another officer was seen texting. There was no order to breach; a border patrol agent took it upon himself to break into the classroom and end the tragedy.

I am generally supportive of law enforcement. But what happened that day in Uvalde, Texas was negligent. I’m not blaming the officers on the scene. It was their lack of leadership — and then the cowardly attempt to cover up their mismanagement of the situation — that needs to be punished.

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