At least they had good hygiene

The Uvalde police have released surveillance video of their actions in the school. It doesn’t help their case.

I’m not including the video, but it doesn’t contain much violence — quite the opposite actually. It’s edited down to a few minutes rather than over an hour, but it’s all inaction punctuated with occasional sounds of gunfire. Of course they could edit out the boring parts because there were lots of them — cops standing around in a hallway. At worst, your imagination is going to be horrified thinking about what’s going on in the classroom you can’t see when the burst of gunfire sounds.

At 12:21 p.m., 45 minutes after police first arrived on the scene, four shots are heard and at least a dozen officers move toward the classroom.

An officer can be heard saying, “They’re making entry.”

Yet they do not.

At 12:30, an officer wearing a helmet and ballistic vest pauses to squirt hand sanitizer from a wall-mounted dispenser and rubs his hands together. Other armed officers walk back and forth, and discuss the classroom doors and windows. The hunt for the keys continues. One officer eventually brings a sledgehammer. The audio from the surveillance camera at times is garbled, but it is loud in the crowded hallway.

At 12:41, a man wearing blue rubber gloves and a black shirt, khaki pants and a black baseball cap, with a stethoscope around his neck, arrives and speaks to officers. Other paramedics arrive with supplies. Two officers in camouflage fist-bump each other.

At 12:50, a cadre of officers crouches outside the classroom. A burst of gunfire is heard, and the video ends. Authorities have said a Border Patrol officer killed the gunman. Investigators are awaiting the results of an analysis from an Austin-based medical expert on how many victims died after police first arrived.

The guy who casually strolls across the hall to rub his hands with disinfectant is jarring. He’s holding a big gun, and he’s hearing the big gun going off in the classroom he’s avoiding entering, and I guess he was worried about getting COVID.

It’s missing the perspective of the kids in the classroom.

All the time the cops are idling in the hall, fidgeting with their gear, there are little kids desperately trying to pretend they’re dead to avoid the attention of the murderer who shoots anyone who makes a sound, watching their playground friends getting slaughtered.


  1. microraptor says

    Someone was sharing around an image from that video last night. One of the cops had his phone out and you could clearly see that his lock screen was the Punisher logo. The person who created the image had stuck a caption on it about how the Punisher logo vs the fact that 20 cops were afraid to face down a single gunman really captures the difference between how cops see themselves vs what they really are.

  2. raven says

    There is a standard protocol for school shootings.

    After all, we have had so many.
    If the school kids can have mass shooting drills all the time, the police should also be able to have…mass shooting drills.
    I learned it after the fact in 5 minutes with Google.

    Get the key from the janitor (in this case, the shooter wasn’t too smart and didn’t even lock the door.)
    Open the door fast.
    To keep from getting shot, the police use ballistic blankets and bullet proof shields.
    They are also dressed in helmets and bullet proof armor of various sorts.
    Toss a flash bang grenade, tear gas, or just shoot the guy.

    Is this dangerous?
    OTOH, it is exactly what the cops get paid to do. It’s their job.

    The police are clearly a lot more competent at pushing around unarmed civilians such as peaceful protesters than dealing with dangerous criminals.

  3. brettvk says

    Y’know, I try for empathy, as hard as that is sometimes. So I try to enter the mindset of someone who has body armor, a really good gun, and training with that gun, standing in a school hallway hearing children screaming, and doing nothing for more than an hour. And I can’t do it. Because how could you do that and keep from imagining – KNOWING – the pain that those children were suffering just feet away, and just stand there? How can you do that? I can’t even bring myself to watch the censored video.

  4. says

    On two TV news broadcasts last night they said that the video was provided not by any official agency, but a news org. AND, they edited out ALL THE CHILDREN SCREAMING. I know that is a harsh thing to hear. But, editing out the screams of the children is DISHONEST. It makes the video seem so bland. WTF! Makes me wonder if the NRA demanded that.

  5. raven says

    How can you do that?

    Good question. Who knows.

    .1. You or anyone could just ask these cops what they were thinking during the mass shooting event.
    In fact, the post investigation can and will do exactly that.
    It’s a basic and legitimate question.
    .2. I’m guessing here that none of these cops had any idea what to do. About zero.
    So in that case, in a complex situation with unknowns, they just mentally froze.
    That is what people do when they are in danger and can’t figure out what to do.

    .3. The other issue here is…leadership.
    The police are a hierarchial organization. They have a chain of command.
    Here, it doesn’t look like anyone in a leadership capacity was present.
    So the cops just milled around trying to figure out what to do.
    Someone in charge should have quickly drawn up a plan, got the materials together, and carried it out.

    All they needed was a key (they didn’t know the door was unlocked but someone could have tried the door knob to see), ballistic blankets and shields, and (optional) flash bangs/tear gas.
    That is what the tactical squad that eventually showed up did.

  6. says

    I sometimes wonder whether there’s some systemic racism at play here. I don’t know about the ethnic composition of the school (or the police), but it looks like it’s mainly brown latines and I can easily imagine the police making less of an effort, because it doesn’t involve a lot of white people. I could be mistaken, however.

  7. René says

    My heart pains for those poor young survivors. They are wrecked for life. I know, I lost my mum at their age, and that scarred me and my sisters for life. It took years of therapies to be finally capable of getting me a decent job. In a few weeks I will be twice as old as my mother when she died. And I still rely on antidepressants.
    I would suggest we crowdfund a team of lawyers to go after the NRA, who must be held accountable.

  8. wzrd1 says

    Shermanj @4, given the wrath parents of the victims have unleashed at the leak and newspaper, despite a pending government release of the shooting being unedited, that’s fine by me. I’ve shot enough people in the wars to know screams quite well. Well enough to avoid the videos entirely.
    Damning is, they likely could’ve saved a few, had they followed the protocols that they were trained in. They had the training, allegedly waited for equipment, while having more than sufficient to clear a classroom of a man with an AR.
    With children suffering from any severe traumatic injuries, the “Golden hour” is out the window, they lack the psyological reserves that an adult has, so immediacy is the watchword!
    Instead, classmates and playground friends bled to death as they watched – with those who could’ve helper a few feet away, defeated by the high technology of a fucking doorknob.
    Making the doorknob smarter than their commander.

    Uglier is, cops train a lot on preserving evidence, not lives…
    So, victims all too often are neglected in favor of preserving the crime scene. And courtesy of the previous SCOTUS, have no duty to the public in terms of preserving life, limb or sight. Only to arrest a criminal and the calculus there says, murder is better than battery or attempted murder.

    Protocol was, upon hearing fire and especially upon taking fire, effect breach, multiple flashbangs and entry by any means that minimizes risk to noncombatants. That’s military and police training. But, we at least tried the doorknob first…

  9. Snidely W says

    @7 raven is on the right track.
    I don’t blame the large number of officers just milling around all of that time. They don’t have the authority to just charge in on their own initiative. They have to be ordered in.
    There were multiple LE orgs. there: Uvalde school police, Uvalde PD, State police, Border Patrol, Texas Rangers maybe too.
    That list may not be complete or entirely correct, but the point is that however many orgs. were there, they EACH had a commander, with the authority to send in their guys. None of them did for a long, long, time. Until the Border Patrol commander sent in his people.
    I hope the investigation reveals just how lousy the integration of these varied LE groups is.
    What were all these petty tyrants (commanders) fucking doing for all that time?
    Complete failure of leadership and integration.

  10. says

    @#2, raven:

    It came out shortly after the event that the Uvalde cops actually had a mass school shooting training simulation just a few months beforehand. So they aren’t just overequipped and using up the single largest chunk of Uvalde’s budget, they have also proved that they are completely untrainable. Police are a totally useless institution, every penny they get in funding is wasted.

    Sure is a good thing the Democrats chose Biden, who refuses to start a federal inquiry and insists, even now, that what we need is to give cops even more money “for training”. If there’s a repeat of January 6 and it succeeds, it won’t be a tragedy, it will be a farce: an unintentional internecine brawl between two right-wing groups who aren’t even willing to admit that they’re on the same side.

  11. indianajones says

    It seems to me that no amount of training or equipment is adequate for these situations. I find it very difficult to fault anyone who hesitates to face a guy with a murder machine who has already shown a psychotic willingness to use it. I get it, that’s the job, that’s the oath, and so on. I get that they didn’t do as they should have. And yet I cannot imagine being the first one through that door. We can fault them for their Punisher self image. We can fault them when they don’t live up to their own projected image of bravery. We can of course fault them when they are in fact cowards of the worst ACAB sort. And so on. But it seems probable to me that even an ideal LEO, one that would pass muster around here even, might not have been as helpful as we would all wish an ideal to be. Because some of this high lights the ineffectiveness of a training and equipment and bravery type response being expected to be effective at all to whatever extent.

    That being the case just what do you do instead of or as well as that? Law enforcement that cannot be relied upon may not become reliable given better training etc. That might well be a fantasy. Uniquely cowardly or otherwise unfit for purpose officers to this case? I doubt it. Maybe. More likely I think is that Texas law enforcement had and does have the up to the minute training, equipment and personnel for dealing with a live shooter in this way. And that this giant cluster fuck was pretty damn close to the expected outcome of what even the absolute best of all of that training/equipment/bravery would have produced anyway . If Texas law enforcement of all organizations doesn’t approach that ideal just in general then it simply doesn’t exist. I think it much more likely they, Texas law enforcement, do have pretty close to this ideal just on average. The problem is that despite that? Despite that, this response didn’t and doesn’t and can’t work even ideally. Focusing on the faults of the actual on the spot officers there who failed to do what they were supposed to do, however richly deserved that opprobrium is, is a distraction from the real issue IMO. This tactic or strategy is unworkable even under the most advantageous of training/equipment/bravery circumstances. And that believing that it ever could be workable is just another example of how stupid the good guy with a gun article of faith among gun fondlers really is.

    I guess I’m trying to say that, even if manifest and serious inadequacies of LE can and should be pointed to in this case, morer gooder guys with morer gooder guns is not the answer here. And focusing too much on the blame that the particular LEO’s undoubtedly bear here, however richly deserved, does leave room for a justification for morer gooder guys with morer gooder guns. Leaving that room is a mistake IMO.

    Or so it all seems to me. No expert here, no wish to be one.

  12. fentex says

    I notice a little logical incongregruity here – talk of finding keys.

    I read an account of a teacher there, and accompanying reporting on the state of school class room door locks; none of the classrooms coud be locked from the inside (which just seems stupid – locks that trigger easily from inside should be standard, surely).

    So why is anyone interested in keys that are unneccessary for responding?

  13. raven says

    …none of the classrooms coud be locked from the inside (which just seems stupid – locks that trigger easily from inside should be standard, surely).

    It is very stupid.
    Classroom doors that lock from the inside are pretty basic standard safety features in schools these days.

    Washington Post 2018
    The schools that have experienced gun violence consistently cited simple, well-established safety measures as most effective at minimizing harm: drills that teach rapid lockdown and evacuation strategies,
    doors that can be secured in seconds
    and resource officers, or other adults, who act quickly.

    The idea here is that when an active mass shooting event is called, the teachers all get in their classrooms, and…lock the door!!! If they do it early enough, the mass shooter can roam the empty halls and look for stragglers. If they are a bit late, they get access to one classroom but can’t kill everyone there and then move to the other classrooms. You still lose kids, just not as many.

    Having classroom doors that lock is so basic a safety feature that everyone just assumed that was the case at the Uvalde school.

  14. raven says

    According to the experts, the best safety feature for schools is lockdown procedures. Keep the shooter out of the classrooms.
    The number one, life saving device in an active shooter situation in a school is a door lock.
    This is Part I of the FTB Pharyngula Mass Shooting Event drills.

    Experts say locked doors, not teachers with guns, proven to keep kids safe in school shootings

    Experts discuss the rise in policies that allow teachers to be armed in schools as a way to deter school shootings, versus proven alternatives that include school lockdowns and weapons bans
    BY LISA DEADERICK JUNE 19, 2022 6 AM PT San Diego Union-Tribune

    Q: What alternative responses to this issue in schools aren’t getting enough consideration, and what does the existing research suggest about the efficacy of those responses?

    Schildkraut: The number one, life saving device in an active shooter situation in a school is a door lock. So, the most important thing that we could be focusing our efforts on is ensuring that our schools have proper lockdown procedures and that they are being crafted effectively.

    There are four main considerations when you are either practicing or activating a lockdown in a real-world situation: Number one, is that you want to get that door locked. Prior to Uvalde, which I’m going to leave out of this because we just don’t know enough about that yet, there are only three instances where anybody has been killed behind a locked door; in zero of those cases was it because the door locks failed. In 2005 in Red Lake, Minn., the shooter wanted to get into one specific room and shot the door locks, and they melted so that he couldn’t get into the room, so he ended up shooting out the window next to it and that’s how he gained access. The second time was at Platte Canyon High School in 2006 [in Bailey, Colo.]: the student who was killed in the shooting was barricaded in the room with the perpetrator, and when SWAT reached the door, he killed her and then he died in aftermath of that. The third time was Parkland [Fla.] and there were six students who were killed in three different classrooms on the first floor, but the perpetrator never entered a single room. They were all locked. He ended up shooting at them through the doors and through the windows because they hadn’t been able to successfully get out of sight, not that that was their fault. There was furniture in the way and too many kids and not enough room for them to get out of sight. So, even in those three instances, those were isolated to one room or three rooms, but you had dozens of other rooms where students successfully locked down and went home that day. That’s a really important consideration about the door lock.

  15. raven says

    Here is Part II of the FTBs Pharyngula Mass Shooting Event Drill.

    The second consideration is that you want to turn the lights off, which provides an added layer of concealment so that it makes it harder for somebody to see and figure out where you are.

    The third thing is that you want to be out of sight, which basically means that you visually get out of sight of any corridor or window. I always tell students when we’re working on this, that if you can’t see out of the window, someone can’t see you in the window. Just make sure you can’t see into the hallway from your position. Also, maintain silence. We don’t want to do anything that calls attention to our room. Again, make it look vacant, get out of the way, and be quiet. That way, nobody knows where you are.

    The fourth consideration is just making sure that once you get into that lockdown position, you don’t come back out until you’re being escorted out or given directions to leave. One thing that we do know is that there have been attacks where people may try and knock on the door. At that point, once you’re locked down, you don’t know if that’s the threat or students just trying to get in for help. Teachers are encouraged, before they fully lock down, to do a visual sweep of the hallway to make sure all students have been picked up, and then to get everybody locked down. Once you’re locked down, you don’t come back to the door at all. Whoever needs to come to your room, whether it’s an administrator or law enforcement or another first responder, they’re going to have access to a key, so you just need to maintain that position.

    There is quite a large literature on how to make schools safer from mass shooters and also how the SWAT teams can go in and end the situation.

    Law enforcement doesn’t have to make it up on the spot with no training.

  16. kome says

    “The sound of children screaming has been removed” should be the state motto of Texas, because ignoring the suffering of children is the only value they seem to live up to.

  17. says

    But it seems probable to me that even an ideal LEO, one that would pass muster around here even, might not have been as helpful as we would all wish an ideal to be.

    Why do you think that? Every year there are plenty of instances where a decently-trained cop, with the right weapon, was indeed able to face an armed suspect and take him down first. Of course there’s always a chance that even the best-trained cop will get killed first, but is that chance always greater than 50%?

    Also, a cop’s chances of surviving a shootout go up a lot when the cops have superior numbers — provided, as raven @5 mentioned, they have coherent leadership and a tactical plan. Big shields and other armor also help.

    3. The other issue here is…leadership…Here, it doesn’t look like anyone in a leadership capacity was present.

    Were all the cops on the scene of equal rank? I find that improbable. Even if they were, there would have been a more senior person who could have at least suggested a plan and encouraged the others to follow it. Did none of the cops even feel enough sense of urgency to urge a response? Or did a rookie naively say “c’mon guys, we gotta do something!” and get laughed at by lazier, more cynical veterans?

  18. John Morales says

    Did none of the cops even feel enough sense of urgency to urge a response?

    At least one did.

    Raging Bee:

    Mireles had called Ruiz during the shooting to inform him that “she had been shot and was dying,” according to testimony that Texas Department of Public Safety Director Colonel Steven McCraw gave to the Texas state Senate last month. McCraw said that Ruiz attempted to enter the classroom to save his wife, but was detained by fellow officers who confiscated his gun and “escorted him off the scene.”


  19. darw1nner says

    It’s all so ludicrous. We allow people to purchase firearms that even a SWAT-equipped police force is afraid to confront. Maybe the fact that armed police are afraid to confront these firearms when children are dying says something about whether we should prohibit these firearms.

  20. lochaber says

    No law enforcement experience, but prior enlisted, and although the fields are very different, there is a sizeable percentage of cops with prior military experience. And, with that many cops on the scene, I think it is very doubtful that there were none with prior military experience.

    One of the first things we learned in boot camp were the general orders, which included “to take charge of this post and all government property within view” -basically, in absence of specific contradictory orders from superiors, it’s your duty to respond to a situation. And cops have absolutely no issue with “taking charge” of a situation – they love to insert themselves into a situation, establish dominance (preferably through violent force), and demand absolute submission from everybody present.

    But, that’s part of the problem, is their training is less about what’s good for society, and more about them violently establishing dominance and demanding submission, and using overwhelming force against the most minor of perceived challenges to their authority. And their use of violence is always framed in an overly simplistic good-guy-vs-bad-guy mentality, without any consideration for bystanders or mistaken identities.

    Later, after bootcamp, when we were doing small-unit tactics and such, one of the most important considerations for any engagement was to avoid a situation where you have people on your own side potentially aiming weapons in the general direction of each other.

    (overly simplistic example, but I love this scene: (Ronin, 1998, Ambush with a Cup of Coffee…)

    just a convoluted way of saying arming teachers is a bad idea – your forces are distributed throughout the building, without any clear idea where each other are, where the “enemy” is, or even who the “enemy” is, and the area is saturated with people you are supposed to be protecting.

    Going into a potential hostage situation, or just a situation with a lot of civilians present around an active shooter would take someone with a decent amount of very specific training to counter. I’m certainly not up to the task, my limited training was for pretty clear-cut, battlefield scenarios, where pretty much everyone present is either someone you bunk with and can recognize by their boots or their choice in MREs, or an enemy you are trying to kill or capture.

    Aside from all of that, you’d think at least one of them would be upset enough about kids being slaughtered, to take some spare body army and double or triple it up, and go in there with an assault rifle (cops in rural PA routinely carried M16s with their shotguns inbetwixt the front seats in patrol cars, in the 80s and 90s, I’m highly skeptical that TX cops now, are less armed than PA cops back when they actually wore cop uniforms instead of Army cosplay…), and even if you can’t get a first strike, at least you could draw some fire away from the fucking kids.

    Oh hell… I just pulled up Robb Elementary, Uvalde, TX on google maps, and at a cursory glance, it looks to be all single-story. So, why the hell didn’t the cops just circle the perimeter, looking through windows, and plink at the guy from a couple blocks back when they find what room he’s in. Or at least knock out a window and evacuate the kids from rooms he’s not in.

    Armchair quarterback and 20/20 hindsight and all that, but just, I have a very low opinion of cops in general, but every new news release about this keeps exceeding my increasingly lowered opinion.

    This is one of the more tragic reasons why people are calling for defunding the police…

  21. indianajones says

    @Raging Bee. Hey, maybe I’m wrong about that or other things too. Like I said no expert, no wish to be one. Bit of a dearth of (fire) armed stand offs here in Australia so I am happy to be wrong. Not sure it touches my main point but sure if you got plenty of instances cool.

  22. brightmoon says

    @6 . That was my first thought as well . That the cops weren’t going to make the effort for little brown kids.