A police officer armed with a rifle asked permission to take a shot at gunman Salvador Ramos moments before the 18-year-old entered Robb Elementary School and killed 21 people in Uvalde, Texas, but the officer reportedly never got a reply.
On Wednesday, the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University published a damning review of law enforcement’s response to the Uvalde shooting and it noted how the request came in about a minute before the heavily armed Ramos reached the school. The report claims the officer was worried a shot might accidentally hit children inside the school. Supervising officers either didn’t hear or responded too late to the call.
“A reasonable officer would conclude in this case, based upon the totality of the circumstances, that use of deadly force was warranted,” read the report.
The delay meant numerous children who “could have been saved” were slaughtered in their classroom.
This is the latest finding about the chaotic law enforcement tactics that took place during the massacre, which continues to come under heavy criticism from elected leaders and community members alike.
State and federal officials are currently investigating how police responded to the massacre, the second worst school shooting in US history.
Previously, officials have said armed officers waited more than an hour in a hallway outside the classroom where Ramos was hiding before breaching a door and shooting him. Panicked children inside the room called 911 multiple times, begging police to come in.
Some parents even took matters into their own hands, sneaking past police to rescue children themselves.
Much of the criticism has been directed at Uvalde school police chief Pete Arredondo, who officials say was the incident commander during the shooting.
Mr Arredondo lacked a radio during the initial moments of the shooting, and officers under his command never tried to open the door to the classroom, believing it was locked when it was in fact open.
The chief, who resigned last week from his city council post and has been on leave from the police department since June, has said he wasn’t incident commander at the time.
The Independent has contacted the Uvalde Police Department and Mr Arredondo for comment on the latest development.
The TSU report also outlines other missed opportunities, noting that one of the first officers on the scene drove to the school so quickly that they flew right by Ramos who was still outside.
Once the gunman entered the school, he briefly stepped outside of classroom 111, where officers could’ve apprehended him before going back inside.
The report also criticises police formations inside the school. It notes that police were positioned on both sides of a hallway in the school as they prepared to attack Ramos “resulting in a high likelihood of officers at either end of the hallway shooting officers at the other end.”
Cumulatively, it suggests that had officers responded immediately and effectively, lives could have been saved. According to audio analysis, Ramos fired 100 rounds in the first three minutes he was inside classrooms at Robb Elementary School.
“Ideally, the officers would have placed accurate return fire on the attacker when the attacker began shooting at them,” the report reads. “Maintaining position or even pushing forward to a better spot to deliver accurate return fire would have undoubtedly been dangerous, and there would have been a high probability that some of the officers would have been shot or even killed. However, the officers also would likely have been able to stop the attacker and then focus on getting immediate medical care to the wounded.”
In June, Texas Department of Pubilc Safety Steven McCraw testified in the state legislature that the school police chief’s decisions during the shooting were “an abject failure.”