Uvalde officials told DPS that police had ‘zero hesitation,’ ‘each minute was used to save lives,’ document shows

Report: City pushed document on DPS to endorse, but director refused

FILE - Crime scene tape surrounds Robb Elementary School after a mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, May 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File) (Jae C. Hong, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The City of Uvalde painted its law enforcement officers as “heroes” that had “zero hesitation” and saved hundreds of people in the May 24 attack on Robb Elementary School, according to a document presented to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The document, titled “Narrative,” was presented by Uvalde officials during a June 2 meeting — just more than a week after an 18-year-old gunman ambushed two adjoining classrooms and killed 19 fourth-grade students and two teachers. He was in the school for more than an hour before officers breached the door and killed him.

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The one-page “Narrative” obtained by KSAT on Saturday morning showed that city officials attempted to lay out their own version of the response.

“The total number of persons saved by the heroes that are local law enforcement and the other assisting agencies is over 500 per UCISD,” the document states. “40 minutes were not wasted but each minute was used to save lives of children and teachers.”

If not for Uvalde or district police being on the scene “immediately,” the statement adds, “that shooter would have had free range on the school.”

City officials said police officers were “on scene taking fire” at 11:30 a.m., within five minutes of receiving the report.

Hallway surveillance videos released this week by KVUE and the Austin American-Statesman show the gunman entered the school at 11:33 a.m. Officers entered the school by 11:36 a.m., the video showed.

The “Narrative” states that local law enforcement officers, including UCISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo, entered the school on the west and east ends.

“There was zero hesitation on any of these officers’ part, they moved directly towards the gunfire,” officials said in the document.

They added that after the gunman went to the classrooms and opened fire, officers approached the door and were fired upon. Two officers reportedly received grazing wounds.

Authorities said they did not breach the door again because they didn’t have shields.

“Absent the shields, every UPD officer was of the opinion that breaching the door was suicide and every Texas Ranger or DPS agent who took their statements agreed,” the document stated. “Every officer in that hallway agreed that the shield was the only way to get in the room.”

“Not a single officer present, including DPS troopers and Texas Rangers, believed they could save lives by approaching that door and being killed one by one.”

The surveillance videos showed that the first ballistic shields were brought inside at 11:52 a.m.

The video goes on to show parts of the hesitant response, including officers milling in and out of the hallway before they breached the classroom and killed the gunman at 12:50 p.m.

The New York Times reported that in the June 2 meeting, city officials objected to the criticism from DPS Director Steve McCraw.

They reportedly pushed the document across the table and asked him to publicly endorse it, but McCraw refused.

McCraw has repeatedly criticized the response by local police and Arredondo, the on-site commander, calling it an “abject failure.”

On Saturday, the city told KSAT that they had no further comment.

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About the Author:

Rebecca Salinas has worked in digital news for more than 10 years and joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.