Cops who failed to rush in during the Uvalde school massacre repeatedly admitted to being too scared of the teen shooter’s AR-15 “battle rifle,” according to a new investigation.
Body-camera footage captured some of the first responders to Robb Elementary last May warning that shooter Salvador Ramos, 18, had an “AR,” according to a new report by The Texas Tribune.
“He has a battle rifle,” someone warned, as another officer getting the same warning reacted with a blunt: “F–k.”
“What’s the safest way to do this? I’m not trying to get clapped out,” state Trooper Richard Bogdanski was heard asking while still outside the school.
While mass-shooter training tells officers to risk their lives to immediately try to end the carnage, officers repeatedly admitted they feared being overpowered by the weapon, according to the investigation, which also cited previously unpublished interviews with investigators.
“Once we found out it was a rifle he was using, it was a different game plan we would have had to come up with,” Detective Louis Landry later told investigators, claiming they “weren’t equipped to make entry into that room without several casualties.”
“It wasn’t just going in guns blazing, the Old West style, and take him out.”
Lt. Javier Martinez later told investigators that he feared Ramos would continue blazing and the rounds “would have gone right through you.”
“Had anybody gone through that door, he would have killed whoever it was,” Martinez said, justifying the shocking 77-minute delay even as trapped fourth-graders called 911 begging for help.
Nineteen students and two teachers died that day.
Another of those first on scene, Sgt. Daniel Coronado, also told investigators of similar fears when he realized, “S–t, it’s a rifle.”
“The way he was shooting, he was probably going to take all of us out,” he said of the widely condemned decision to wait for reinforcements even as 400 officers from various forces eventually arrived.
Uvalde Sgt. Donald Page also blamed the failure to storm in and confront Ramos on them knowing his weapon “was definitely an AR.”
“There was no way of going in,” Page claimed to investigators. “We had no choice but to wait and try to get something that had better coverage where we could actually stand up to him.”
Officers chose to await the arrival of a Border Patrol SWAT team, even though it was 60 miles away, the investigation noted. At least three of the 21 students and teachers who died were still alive when officers finally stormed in.
The since-fired school district police chief, Pete Arredondo, readily admitted the officers he led would “get scrutinized (for) why we didn’t go in there.”
“I know the firepower he had, based on what shells I saw, the holes in the wall in the room next to his. … The preservation of life, everything around (the gunman), was a priority,” he told investigators.
As well as keeping terrified cops away, the high-powered rifle also explained the complete carnage inside the classrooms, with Ramos firing more than 100 rounds at students and teachers at point-blank range.
Several victims lost large portions of their heads and left baseball-sized holes in others, the Tribune said, citing crime-scene photos.
Ramos legally bought the weapons and a mass of ammunition — some online — just days after turning 18.
The Tribune said that none of the officers quoted in the released documents were willing to be interviewed for its investigation.
Amid ongoing outrage at the police response, relatives of some of the dead pupils told the paper that hundreds of cops feeling overpowered by one barricaded teen is proof AR-15-style weapons need to be regulated.
Police “knew the monster behind the door was not the kid. It’s the rifle the kid is holding,” said Jesse Rizo, whose 9-year-old niece Jackie Cazares was one of the 19 children killed.
“It’s the freaking AR that they’re afraid of.”
Some politicians disagree, however.
“This man had enough time to do it with his hands or a baseball bat, and so it’s not the gun. It’s the person,” Republican Sen. Bob Hall told a hearing a month after the shooting.