The elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers last month, will be demolished, the city’s mayor said on Tuesday.
The announcement comes hours after a senior state government official said the police response to the Robb Elementary School shooting was “an abject failure” in which a commander put the lives of officers above children.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin did not give a time frame for when the site will be demolished, but told a board meeting: “You can never ask a child or a teacher to go back to that school.”
At a separate Texas State Senate hearing on the May 24 shooting, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw noted that the commander at the scene made “terrible decisions” and officers had no enough training, costing valuable time during which lives could have been saved.
“There is compelling evidence that the police response to the Robb Elementary attack was an abject failure and antithetical to everything we learned,” McCraw said.
Many parents and relatives of the children and staff expressed deep anger at the actions of security forces after the boy began the attack on Robb Elementary School.
According to McCraw, one of the reasons for the delay in responding to the shooting was the search for a key to the classroom where it took place. The director noted that the door was not locked and there was no evidence that officers tried to check that it was locked while others were looking for a key.
“There’s no way… the guy can lock the door from the inside,” McCraw said.
Days after the attack, the Texas DPS reported that 19 officers waited for more than an hour in a hallway outside classrooms 111 and 112 before a Border Patrol-led tactical team finally entered the scene. McCraw reiterated that at Tuesday’s hearing.
“The officers had weapons, the children did not. Officers had bulletproof vests, children did not. The officers had training, the guy didn’t. One hour, 14 minutes and eight seconds: it was the time that the children and teachers waited in room 111 to be rescued”, pointed out the director of the DPS.
“Three minutes after the subject entered the west building, there were enough armed officers wearing protective gear to isolate, distract and neutralize the subject,” McCraw added.
“The only thing that stopped a corridor of dedicated officers from entering rooms 111 and 112 was the on-site commander, who decided to put the lives of officers before the lives of children,” the director added at the hearing.
McCraw said the commander, Uvalde Schools Police Chief Pete Arredondo, “waited for radio, rifles, shields and SWAT. Ultimately, he waited for a key that was never needed.”
Arredondo was not at either of the two hearings.
Earlier this month, he said he never considered himself a commander in the incident and that he did not order the police not to storm the building.
At the city council meeting Tuesday night, Mayor McLaughlin accused McCraw of deflecting the blame from the state police.
“At each briefing he leaves out the number of his own officers and rangers who were on site that day,” he charged. “Colonel McCraw has an agenda, which is not to present a full report on what happened and to give factual answers to the families in this community,” he added.
McLaughlin said state officials were leaving the city and its residents in the dark.
Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, urged in a statement that all facts about the shooting be released to the victims’ families and the public as soon as possible.
Uvalde City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday night to deny Arredondo a license as a member of the council. The county’s school police chief won the council election shortly before the shooting, but has not attended the two meetings held since. Denying him a leave sets up his potential exit as a member if he misses a third consecutive meeting.
Arredondo told the Texas Tribune he left his two radios outside the school because he wanted his hands free to hold his gun. He further noted that he asked for tactical equipment, a sniper and keys to enter, keeping away from doors for 40 minutes to avoid provoking bursts of gunfire.
Community members, along with the victims’ parents, asked Arredondo to resign during a school board meeting on Monday, ABC News reported.
Source: CNN Brasil