‘Full of victims’: Children were calling for help as police waited outside Uvalde school, 911 dispatch reveals

Footage raises more questions about police inaction as children called for help while officers surrounded building or waited inside nearby hallway

Alex Woodward
New York
Tuesday 31 May 2022 18:24 BST
Joe and Jill Biden visit Uvalde elementary school victims memorial
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Recently released video appears to capture a 911 dispatcher alerting law enforcement that emergency operators were receiving desperate calls from schoolchildren reporting that their classroom was “full of victims” after a gunman opened fire inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

A recording of the call obtained by ABC News – in a video filmed outside the school – reportedly took place at 12.13pm on 24 May, when officers had surrounded the building and waited inside a hallway, raising more questions about law enforcement’s delayed response, and whether their inaction led to more bloodshed. Nineteen children and two teachers were killed in the massacre.

“Child is advising he is in the room, full of victims,” the dispatcher can be heard saying in the video. “Full of victims at this moment … Is anybody inside of the building?”

Police officers responded to the scene within four minutes after 18-year-old Salvador Ramos entered the building at roughly 11.33am. But officers waited more than an hour to enter the school, until shortly after 1pm, when a sharpshooter with the United States Border Patrol tactical team fatally shot the gunman.

Ramos was left alone inside the school for roughly 78 minutes while law enforcement surrounded the building and prevented parents and bystanders from entering the school while they were pleading with officers to save their children. At one point, 19 officers were waiting inside a school hallway.

The incident commander wrongly believed that the massacre had transitioned from an “active shooter” protocol to one with a “barricaded” subject, according to officials.

Steven C McCraw, director and colonel of the Texas Department of Public Safety, conceded that waiting to respond was “the wrong decision, period”.

“When it comes to an active shooter, you don’t have to wait on tactical gear,” he said at press briefing on 27 May. “There were plenty of officers to do what needed to be done.”

The gunman fired more than 100 rounds after entering the school and walking towards two classrooms – rooms 111 and 112 – connected by a bathroom.

Shortly after noon, as many as 19 officers were in a nearby hallway. A student in room 112 called 911. The same student called at 12.10 to report that multiple people had been killed, and again three minutes later, and again at 12.16pm to report that eight to nine students were alive, according to Mr McCraw.

Gunshots can be heard on another 911 call at 12.21pm.

It remains unclear whether that information was relayed to officers on the ground.

“That question will be answered,” Mr McCraw said. “I’m not going to share the information we have right now. … I don’t have the detailed interview right now.”

The US Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the police response, and Uvalde’s school district police chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo – the incident commander during the attack – is under heightened scrutiny.

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