Uvalde CISD police officers held response training just two months before mass shooting

State law requires public school districts to have emergency operation plans

Crime scene tape surrounds Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. Desperation turned to heart-wrenching sorrow for families of grade schoolers killed after an 18-year-old gunman barricaded himself in their Texas classroom and began shooting, killing at least 19 fourth-graders and their two teachers. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) (Jae C. Hong, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Two months before an 18-year-old opened fire inside one of their campuses, killing 21 people, the Uvalde CISD police held a training to “prepare as best as possible” for that exact type of situation.

The Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District posted about the active shooter training on March 22.

In the post, the department said the training took place at the high school and the goal was to “train every Uvalde area law enforcement officer so that we can prepare as best as possible for any situation that may arise.”

They’ve had “several” of these trainings, the post added.

State law requires public school districts to “adopt and implement” emergency operation plans, such as regular drills and exercises, for dealing with threats such as active threats or severe weather. At least once every three years, the district must conduct a safety and security audit.

According to the Texas Tribune, the Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University conducted an audit in 2020 and found that only 200 of 1,022 districts in the state had active-shooter policies.

UCISD received $69,000 from a $100 million state grant to enhance physical security at public schools, the Tribune reported. Other districts of the same size received similar amounts.

The response to the shooting at Uvalde is under criticism, as authorities have said the shooter was in the school for more than an hour, killing 19 students and two teachers in a fourth-grade classroom.

The commander at the scene in Uvalde — the school district’s police chief — believed that 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos was barricaded inside adjoining classrooms and that children were no longer at risk, Steven McCraw, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said Friday.

“It was the wrong decision,” he said.

After the shooter crashed a truck at 11:28 a.m. on Tuesday outside the school, he walked through a door that was propped open at the back of the school, McCraw said.

Ramos went inside the school and made his way to a fourth-grade classroom, where he locked the door and opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle. He was carrying multiple magazines and he barricaded himself inside the room.

At 11:35 a.m., three police officers with Uvalde police entered the school, followed by three volunteer officers, and a deputy. The three UPD officers went to the door, which was closed, and received grazing wounds.

At 11:43 a.m., the elementary announced on social media that the school was on lockdown.

Just after noon, officers continued to arrive in the hallway. At this point, there were 19 officers inside the hallway outside the classroom.

The crisis came to an end after a group of Border Patrol tactical officers entered the school roughly an hour later, at 12:51 p.m.

At 12:58 p.m., law enforcement radio chatter said Ramos had been killed by the Border Patrol team and the siege was over.

What happened in those 90 minutes has fueled mounting public anger and scrutiny, as authorities have released conflicting information in the past few days, like whether an officer fired at the shooter before he went inside.

McCraw confirmed Friday that there was no interaction with an officer before Ramos made his way into the building.

In fact, a school district police officer was not inside the school when Ramos arrived.

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Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.