UVALDE, Texas – New information is emerging about the delayed response by law enforcement in stopping a mass shooter who killed 19 students and two teachers at a Uvalde elementary school.
A source told ABC News on Sunday that police officers didn’t attempt to open two doors that were connected to the classrooms where a gunman was opening fire on children for 77 minutes after arriving on the scene.
The new development was first reported by the San Antonio Express-News on Saturday, citing an unnamed source familiar with the investigation.
The newspaper’s source also said that the gunman wasn’t able to lock the doors from the inside and that the doors could have been unlocked due to a malfunction.
More than a dozen officers, including Uvalde CISD police chief Pete Arredondo, waited for over an hour in the hallway of Robb Elementary School before a small group of Border Patrol agents entered the room and killed the gunman.
The reports appear to contradict a recent public statement by Arredondo, who’s been blamed as the incident commander during the shooting by state police officials. Defending his delay in confronting the gunman to the Texas Tribune. He claimed he was trying dozens of keys to get into the classroom.
According to surveillance video footage cited by ABC News, neither Arredondo nor other officers in the hallway were seen trying to open the door.
Surveillance video also showed the gunman was able to open the door to classroom 111 from the outside, the source told ABC.
The classroom doors at the school are supposed to lock automatically, but investigators believe the door had previously been reported as malfunctioning.
It’s still pending further investigation if the doors to the classrooms were unlocked throughout the entire shooting.
Teacher previously reported door’s malfunction
Arnulfo Reyes, a teacher at Robb Elementary, told ABC News that prior to the mass shooting, he told the school’s principal that the door to his classroom 111 didn’t latch properly during security checks.
“When that would happen, I would tell my principal, ‘Hey, I’m going to get in trouble again, they’re going to come and tell you that I left my door unlocked, which I didn’t,’” Reyes told ABC. “But the latch was stuck. So, it was just an easy fix.”
Arredondo was recently sworn in privately as a Uvalde city councilman, despite having received criticism in his handling of the mass shooting.
He told the Tribune that when he was in the hallway of the elementary school for over an hour with other officers, he called for tactical gear, a sniper and keys to gain access to the classrooms.
Arredondo and other officers took cover for 40 minutes “to avoid provoking sprays of gunfire,” the Tribune reports.
When a custodian brought the keys, Arredondo tried dozens of them before he could finally get one to work. When they gained access, police went inside and fatally shot the gunman.
ABC News reports that Arredondo is not cooperating with investigators who are evaluating the law enforcement response to the shooting.
As of Friday, Uvalde police officials agreed to speak to the House committee that is investigating, according to a Republican lawmaker that’s leading the investigation.
2 officers passed up chance to shoot gunman
Two Uvalde city police officers passed up a fleeting chance to shoot a gunman outside Robb Elementary School before he went on to kill 21 people inside the school, a senior sheriff’s deputy told The New York Times.
That would mean a second missed opportunity for officers to stop Salvador Ramos before the May 24 rampage inside the school that killed 19 children and two teachers. Officials said that a school district police drove past Ramos without seeing him in the school parking lot.
The unidentified officers, one of whom was armed with an AR-15-style rifle, said they feared hitting children playing in the line of fire outside the school, Chief Deputy Ricardo Rios of nearby Zavalla County told the newspaper.
The officers’ chance of stopping Ramos passed quickly, perhaps in seconds, Rios said.