White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday that it’s “deeply disturbing” that Texas officials found cops could have stopped the school shooter who murdered 21 people in Uvalde within 3 minutes — rather than 74.
“The actions that we have seen and the reports that we have seen — it’s deeply concerning,” Jean-Pierre said at her regular briefing.
“As you know, DOJ is doing a review. We’re going to leave it to their findings and their review before we’ll say anything more,” she added. “But it is deeply disturbing to hear the reports on what happened on the ground on that day.”
Steve McGraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, told state legislators Tuesday that the police response to the May 24 shooting was an “abject failure.”
“Three minutes after the subject entered the west building, there was a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract and neutralize the subject,” McGraw said.
McGraw pinned the blame on Uvalde school police chief Pete Arrendondo.
“The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children,” McGraw said.
“The officers had weapons, the children had none. The officers had body armor, the children had none. The officers had training, the subject had none. One hour, 14 minutes and 8 seconds — that’s how long the children waited and the children waited in room 111 to be rescued.”
He added: “And while they waited, the on-scene commander waited for a radio and arrivals. Then he waited for shields. Then he waited for SWAT. Lastly, he waited for a key that was never needed.”
McGraw said cops had a “hooligan” crowbar within eight minutes that would have allowed them to break into the classroom.
Salvador Ramos, 18, used an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle that he legally purchased to murder 19 children and two teachers before being shot dead by the authorities.
The police response spurred bipartisan outrage, as did subsequent error-ridden official accounts. For example, police initially claimed that a school police officer exchanged gunfire with Ramos before he entered the school, which later turned out to be untrue.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, a Republican, requested the federal Justice Department investigation of the police response. McLaughlin memorably called Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke a “sick son of a bitch” for interrupting a press conference about the shooting to push for gun control.