‘We’re just going to stand here with our thumbs up our a**es?’ Officer who responded to Uvalde massacre said police felt like cowards

‘We wanted to go in and save lives... we felt like cowards,’ officer told PEOPLE

FILE - Law enforcement, and other first responders, gather outside Robb Elementary School following a shooting, May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. Scores of parents' terror turned to rage over the more than an hour that police waited to breach the classroom where a teenage gunman was killing kids. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, File) (Dario Lopez-Mills, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

UVALDE, Texas – The police response to the Uvalde shooting has been under the microscope since the tragedy occurred Tuesday and one officer is now speaking out.

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, the officer said “there was almost a mutiny. We were like, ‘There’s a f---ing gunman in the school, we hear gunshots, and we’re just going to stand here with our thumbs up our asses?’”

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Based on the timeline of events that has been made public, the first 911 call came in around 11:30 a.m. Three Uvalde police officers entered the building five minutes later and received grazing wounds and gunfire was heard inside a classroom just two minutes after that.

FBI and a police sergeant arrived at 11:51 a.m. and it wasn’t until 12:51 p.m. that officers entered the classroom, using a master key, and fatally shot the 18-year-old high school student who is responsible for the massacre.

Texas Department of Public Safety director Steven McCraw said last week that it was the “wrong decision.”

Up to 19 officers were in the hallway outside the classroom but didn’t go inside, at the same time students were calling 911.

“We wanted to go in and save lives. It was the most frustrating situation of my entire career,” the officer told PEOPLE. “We felt like cowards.”

“It felt cowardly to stand off and let this punk, this kid, this 18-year-old asshole just go in and do whatever he wanted to do. There was a lot of arguing, a lot of cussing, a lot of people who were saying that we should just say f--- it and go in, but then what? We needed to have a plan, and the commander didn’t have a plan,” the officer continued.

The district’s police chief, Pete Arredondo, made the decision that officers should wait to confront the gunman. He believed the gunman was barricaded inside two adjoining classrooms and that children were no longer at risk.

“From the benefit of hindsight, where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision, period. There’s no excuse for that,” said McCraw. “When it comes to an active shooter, you don’t have to wait on tactical gear, plain and simple.”

The officer who spoke to PEOPLE has served for more than 10 years.

“Even if he had barricaded himself in, he had already shot at people, so why weren’t we in there doing what we should’ve done? I remember thinking ‘this is wrong.’ But there was nothing I could do,” the officer said.

“It sucks that we look like we were cowards, because we weren’t cowards,” he told PEOPLE. “But that’s nothing compared to the fact that little kids died and maybe we could’ve done something to save them. I wish we had known what to do. I wish someone had told us what to do.”

The officer was not identified by PEOPLE.


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