Surveillance Footage from the Uvalde School…
A new Uvalde school shooting surveillance video provides the most detailed depiction of how police waited in the school hallway, a few feet from the classrooms, while the shooter continued to kill 21 pupils and two teachers on May 24th.
The video, which the Austin American-Statesman Newspaper released on Tuesday, July 12th, angered the families of the victims who had not yet seen the video. The footage shows responding officers walking up to the classroom door minutes after the shooter entered but backing away once they hear gunfire.
After more than an hour and officers from several agencies swarming the hallway, the classroom doorway was breached by the police, who then shot and killed the shooter.
Families of the victims stated they were taken by surprise at the news of the surveillance footage being released while in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, meeting with government leaders.
Angel Garza, the father of Amerie Jo Garza, 10, who was a victim of the shooting, stated, “We got blindsided by a leak. Who do you think you are to release footage like that of our children who can’t even speak for themselves, but you want to go ahead and air their final moments to the entire world?” What makes you think that’s OK?”
The video footage from this incident was lightly edited by the Austin American-Statesman Newspaper by removing the sound of children yelling and blurring at least one child’s identity.
On Wednesday, July 13th, Uvalde County Commissioner Ronald Garza said, “They just didn’t act. They just didn’t move. I just don’t know what was going through those policemen’s minds that tragic day, but … there was just no action on their part.”
Despite having a large number of officers on the scene, Roland Gutierrez, a Democratic State Senator, blamed the Texas Department of Public Safety for failing to take charge of the situation. The Chief of Police for the Uvalde school district, Pedro Arredondo, was the on-scene commander during the shooting.
Arredondo was relieved from his position as the Police Chief for the school district in June and has not made any significant public comments about his choices on that particular day. However, he did tell the Texas Tribune that he did not see himself as the scene’s leader.
According to Jimmy Perdue, President of the Texas Police Chiefs Association and Chief of the North Richland Hills Police Department, every officer had a responsibility to act regardless of who was in control.
Perdue affirmed, “I believe that the training is very clear on what we are supposed to do. Even a single officer has the responsibility to go stop the killing, and that did not happen.”
Still on Surveillance footage from Uvalde School Shooting…
According to the video, police waited for over an hour, inside the halls of the school, to confront the shooter.
The video, which encompasses the entire shooting including footage of the shooter crashing his vehicle in a ditch across in front of the funeral home close to the school and then proceeding to enter the school, is an hour and a half and was published on Youtube.
At 11:33 a.m, he comes into the school, turns down the hallway while carrying a semi-automatic rifle, and walks into a classroom. Officers arrive at 11:37 a.m and proceed to stand in the hallway until 12:21 p.m only engaging the shooter at 12:50 p.m.
According to Perdue, “There are absolutely times in a tactical situation where you are supposed to hold and not advance on whatever the situation is. But there’s just as many times when you are supposed to be pushing and pushing the issue towards the gunfire and towards the gunman.”
Authorities have criticized the early distribution of the footage. At a Uvalde City Council meeting on Tuesday night, Mayor Don McLaughlin said that leaking the footage to the media was unprofessional. He said families deserved to see the video before the public.
Republican State Representative Dustin Burrows, who serves as the committee’s chair, announced that he was planning to host a private briefing for the victims’ families in Uvalde on Sunday, July 17th so they could view the footage from a security camera and hear the committee’s report. The plan was to then make the footage, and report, public. However, this didn’t go as planned.
The American-Statesman defended the publication choice, arguing in an editorial that “We have to bear witness to history, and transparency and unrelenting reporting is a way to bring change.”
While families dealt with the tape, many urged others not to publish the video on social media. “Please, please, please, do not share the video!! We need time to process this,” said Berlinda Arreola, grandma to Amerie Jo Garza.
The Facebook family and friends of Gloria Cazares, whose daughter Jacklyn was killed, also urged people not to post the video because it is “the opposite of what the families wanted!” Cazares wrote, “If you are a true friend, please do not share it. I don’t want to see it in my feed nor do I want to be tagged on any of the news stations that are sharing it. Our hearts are shattered all over again!”
Ellie Garcia’s uncle, Adrian Alonzo, told CNN’s Dana Bash that there had been no updates from authorities on the inquiry into law enforcement’s response to the incident.
“To go behind our backs and to release it for whatever reason, for views, for likes, for shares — I don’t know — but for whatever reason, that decision was made to put it out to the world before we even had a chance to see it,” Alonzo said. “Watching the video and watching him enter the school with the rifle. It brought up a lot of anger.”
The Robb Elementary School pupils will not be returning to the site and will instead be sent to other schools, the school district previously confirmed.