Uvalde officers’ ballistic shields wouldn’t have stopped rifle bullets, but hesitation cost lives: experts


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According to experienced law enforcement experts, active shooter response protocols call for police to immediately attack and incapacitate a gunman – especially when children are the targets.

But although officers at the scene of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, arrived minutes after the May 24 attack, they posted in the hallway.

Footage from inside the school shows officers on the scene had long guns and bulletproof vests, as well as ballistic shields. But they piled into the hallway and did not enter the classroom, where the shooter who killed 19 children and two adults locked himself in.

Children inside the elementary school classroom called 911 repeatedly for help.

UVALDE’S CLASS DOOR UNLOCKED DURING FILMING AS OFFICERS WAIT FOR KEYS: ‘ABJECT FAILURE’

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw testifies during a Texas Senate hearing regarding last month’s mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Tuesday, June 21, 2022, in Austin, in Texas. Two teachers and 19 students were killed.
(AP Photo/Eric Gay)

But it wasn’t until 77 minutes after the 18-year-old killer entered the school that a tactical team broke through the classroom door and shot him dead, authorities say. It was far too long, experts say.

“If you attack the shooter, you disrupt the shooter’s plan, and the shooter has to defend themselves,” Dave Katz, former US Drug Enforcement Administration special agent and now CEO of Global Security Group, told Fox News Digital. “And if the shooter shoots you, it’s better than letting the shooter attack children.”

Based on footage from inside the school, he said it appeared officers had inadequate Level IIIA ballistic shields, which are designed to protect only against common pistol rounds, and on the basis of their training in the lane, insufficient training. Katz said his expertise includes being a master shield instructor and leading the DEA’s shield program in the 1990s.

“They weren’t the right shields for the operation,” he said. “These guys had the wrong equipment and the wrong training.”

Stronger Level III shields would have protected the officers, he said, but even without them they would have had to attack the shooter.

“The moment these kids are in danger, the shields go down, you walk down the hall, and if you get shot, shoot back,” said Katz, a father of three. “If you fall, the next guy will get it.”

SHOOTING AT UVALDE: TEXAS DPS OFFICIALS BRING ROBB ELEMENTARY SCHOOL GATE INTO STATE CAPITOL AHEAD OF HEARING

He said police should practice reacting quickly and aggressively and warned schools should have their outside doors locked at all times.

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw told the state Senate special committee to protect all Texans last week that the police response to the active shooting was “a dismal failure and contrary to everything we have learned in the past two decades since the Columbine massacre.”

He said the first officers on the scene had enough weapons and firearms to arrest the shooter within three minutes.

At least one DPS special agent appeared bothered by the lack of action taken at the scene, according to the updated timeline released by law enforcement.

“If there are children in there, we have to go,” a DPS special agent repeated twice at 11:56 a.m. An unknown officer replied, “Whoever is in charge will determine that.”

“The only thing that kept the corridor of dedicated officers from entering rooms 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to put the lives of the officers before the lives of the children,” McCraw said during the interview. audience. “The officers had weapons; the children had none. The officers had bulletproof vests; the children had none. The officers had training; the subject had none.

More than 10 officers entered the school less than three minutes after the shooting began, McCraw said previously, but the incident commander, Uvalde School Police Chief Pete Arredondo, would have delayed their advance.

Uvalde Police Chief Pete Arredondo speaks during a news conference following the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. May 24, 2022.

Uvalde Police Chief Pete Arredondo speaks during a news conference following the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. May 24, 2022.
(Mikala Compton/USA TODAY NETWORK via REUTERS)

Arredondo ordered officers to wait for more tactical gear and a key to unlock the classroom door, McCraw said. Investigators later determined the door was likely unlocked.

McCraw said it was “plain and simple” that there was not enough training, and he accused Arredondo of making “terrible decisions” as well as delaying agents from other agencies who wanted to get involved. deal with the suspect.

Arredondo did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

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“Ultimately, no one was responsible,” said Katherine Schweit, a former FBI special agent who started the bureau’s active shooter program.

She said the response was out of sync with how police train for active shooter seizures.

“I believe in the police chief’s first interview he said, ‘I wasn’t in charge,’ and now we find out he was in charge,” she told Fox News. Digital. “The main thing is that no one was in charge.”

Flowered crosses are dedicated to each of the victims of the Uvalde massacre.  People bring flowers, stuffed animals and cards to the town square memorial a month later.

Flowered crosses are dedicated to each of the victims of the Uvalde massacre. People bring flowers, stuffed animals and cards to the town square memorial a month later.
(Ashley Soriano/Fox News)

The shooter’s active response policy, which Schweit helped formulate following the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, is to directly pursue the suspect and then incapacitate him, she said.

“We learned from Columbine that we needed to do a more effective job of getting to where the shooter was, not only to stop the shot, but also to look for opportunities to save people who might be injured and bleeding,” says -she.

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This also means moving in whether or not the agents have ballistic shields, and whether or not they are of the appropriate level.

“Everyone wants to have the best and safest gear, that’s great,” she said, “but no active shooter training requires ballistic shields.”

The training requires officers to “go after the shooter, period,” she said. And if they had, the uncertainty about the lock on the door wouldn’t even have mattered.

“The key situation is another piece that shows us that the officers did not execute the training that they received,” she told Fox News Digital. “If they had gone after the shooter, they would have walked through the door and found it was unlocked.”

She also pointed out that schools should emphasize “run” in the slogan “run, hide, fight”. The word comes first for a reason.

“The first thing you should consider is running and/or escaping the area,” she said. “We tell teachers and children to stay still and hope someone else comes to save them. And I will tell you that in situations where children ran away from school, they survived.”

She also questioned the wisdom of having a small school police department.

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“Would they be better served consolidating departments to provide larger, stronger training?” she asked. “Joint training is not the same as having every member of your team able to do what we needed at Uvalde. They just don’t have the resources, the schedule, the training, the depth in these departments.

At least, she said, smaller departments should consider working closely with larger neighbors or contracting with county agencies.

Congress and the Justice Department are reviewing Uvalde’s response.

Fox News’ Paul Best contributed to this report.




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