Uvalde Cops Never Tried to Open Door to Save Kids from Shooter: Report

Police said they were waiting for a key to unlock the classroom door, but it might have been open all along.
Steven C. McCraw Texas Department of Public Safety
Director and Colonel of the Texas Department of Public Safety Steven C. McCraw speaks at a press conference. Photo by Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Uvalde police officers waiting outside a pair of Robb Elementary School classrooms where kids and teachers were trapped with a gunman didn’t try to open the door to save them, according to a new report. 

Citing an unnamed law enforcement source close to the case, San Antonio Express-News said surveillance footage shows that officers did not try to open the door that led to the classrooms a single time in 77 minutes. The 18-year-old shooter ultimately killed 21 people, including 19 kids, on May 24 and was shot dead by border patrol agents who stormed the classroom.   


The report is the latest in a series of damning revelations about the police response to the mass shooting, which survivors and politicians have described as cowardly and negligent. 

Uvalde has hired a private law firm in an effort to suppress body camera footage and other records surrounding the mass shooting, Motherboard reported last week. In a letter, the city’s private lawyer argued it should be exempted from releasing records in part because they include “highly embarrassing information” and may cause “emotional/mental distress.”

As many as 19 cops stood in the hallway outside the connecting classrooms while the rampage took place. Police initially said the gunman had locked the door and that they were waiting for keys. However, the source speaking to San Antonio Express-News said that while authorities may have assumed the door was locked—the doors are designed to lock automatically once closed—a malfunction means it may have been open the entire time but officers didn’t try it. 

The source also said the cops had access to a tool called a “halligan” that could have crowbarred a locked door open. 

Uvalde school district police chief Pedro Arredondo told the Texas Tribune he had called for tactical gear, a sniper, and keys for the classroom. He said that when he got the keys, he tried “dozens” but they didn’t work.

However, the source speaking to San Antonio Express-News said Arredondo didn’t use the keys on the classrooms where the kids were trapped; rather, the source said, he used them on other classrooms in a failed attempt to find a master key. 

As the children and teachers were trapped inside, several of them called 911 pleading for help. Meanwhile, many of their parents were being held back by police officers from entering the school as they begged the cops to take action. 

The official narrative from law enforcement has changed several times since the shooting took place. Initially, police said a school resource officer confronted the shooter outside the school, which didn’t happen. The Texas Department of Public Safety also wrongly said a teacher had propped open a door to the school, which allowed the gunman to enter. 

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