Over the weekend, it was revealed that Uvalde police officers didn't attempt to open the door to the two classrooms where children were trapped during a May 24 shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead.
A law enforcement source close to the investigation told the San Antonio Express-News that due to a possible malfunction with door locks inside the building, the doors to the classrooms where shooter Salvador Ramos killed nearly two dozen people may have been unlocked the entire time officers were inside the building, and that officers didn’t try to open the door earlier in the standoff.
Surveillance footage from inside the building revealed that officers did not make an attempt to enter the doors of classrooms 111 and 112, where Ramos injured or killed the victims of the Robb Elementary School shooting.
Ramos entered Robb Elementary at 11:33am through an outer door that was shut by a teacher but failed to automatically lock, despite its design. Ramos proceeded to classrooms 111 and 112, which are connected with a door in between. Investigators believe the shooter didn't lock the doors to these classrooms from the inside and that they were likely unlocked the whole time due to malfunction.
The doors, according to the source, are designed in such a way that they lock automatically from the inside, requiring a key to open from the outside.
Surveillance footage from inside the building showed that Ramos was able to open the door to classroom 111 and enter with his rifle. Ramos was captured firing rounds into that classroom as well as classroom 112, briefly entering the hallway, and then re-entering through the door as officers chased him inside.
After the three initial police quickly retreated without trying to open the doors after being shot at by Ramos, Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde school district police chief, said he spent over an hour in the hallway of the school trying dozens of keys from a custodian.
The chief wasn't trying keys directly on the rooms in question, rather he was hunting for a master key and trying various keys at a different location, far from the shooter, according to the Express-News.
Chief Arredondo has said he instructed his police to stay away from the classroom doors to avoid getting hurt by gunfire, and to wait patiently for tactical gear, a sniper, and more keys to try before taking action.
According to the Express-News, Uvalde police officers, who failed to follow the active shooter training they had recently received, had access to a halligan, a forcible entry tool used mostly by firefighters that resembles a crowbar, which they could have used to breech the classroom doors without a key.
Other police officers then spent over an hour outside of the school, waiting, as concerned parents pleaded with them to enter and confront Ramos. The police did actively restrain and drag into custody parents who were willing to go in themselves to rescue their sons and daughters.
77 minutes passed between the moment Ramos entered the school and a border patrol agent arrived, rushed into the school without waiting for backup, and shot the gunman.
While police waited outside, children inside called 911 and begged for help. At least two children bled out from wounds that were treatable if help had arrived sooner.
The Department of Justice has announced that they intend to investigate the highly questionable Uvalde police response, and an investigation as to whether those classroom doors were open during the span of the shooting remains ongoing.
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