About 13 Texas state troopers were part of the botched law enforcement response to the Uvalde school shooting, in which 19 kids and two teachers were killed, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The revelation is significant in that the Texas Department of Public Safety, the agency investigating the mass shooting, had previously not disclosed that about a dozen of its own troopers were part of the failure to quickly take out the school gunman, and instead blamed Uvalde law enforcement officers.
The information was made public by Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who said the head of Texas DPS told him state troopers were among the officers who responded to the May 24 massacre along with Uvalde school district police, Uvalde city police and US Border Patrol agents.
“He told me there was enough people and equipment to breach the door,” Gutierrez told the Chronicle.
In the days immediately after the shooting, DPS Director Steve McCraw said the incident commander for the shooting was Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo, and that it was Arredondo’s decision to wait about 77 minutes to breach the classroom door where the gunman was.
“It was the wrong decision. Period,” McCraw told reporters during a press conference.
McCraw claimed Arredondo kept about 19 law enforcement officers from different agencies from breaking down the door to stop the shooting and possibly save injured victims who had been shot but were alive and bleeding out.
Arredondo recently disputed the claim that he was the incident commander, telling the Texas Tribune that he never gave orders and didn’t even have his police radios with him.
In a tearful conversation, Gutierrez claims McCraw said DPS would never again “stand down,” Gutierrez told the San Antonio Express-News.
“Why weren’t the decisions made by the most superior police force on site?” Gutierrez said to the Chronicle. “How then did everybody just jump on and make (Arredondo) the incident commander? If he never had a radio, then how did he make himself the incident commander? It just doesn’t follow.”
The failure of all law enforcement officers to not act sooner went against their training, which in Texas means they must not stop until the shooter has been stopped, either killed or taken into custody.
The law enforcement response to the shooting is under review by the Justice Department, Texas Rangers and the FBI. Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee is leading a criminal investigation into the shooting.