How the police response to Uvalde failed: No radio, old tactics

A child shouted, “I’m shot,” drawing the shooter’s attention. He returned to where the child was lying and shot the student again, killing him, Khloie said.

Chief Arredondo arrived at 11:35 a.m., as the first officers began moving down the hallway outside the classroom door. Two minutes later, a lieutenant and a sergeant from the Uvalde Police Department approached the door and were grazed by bullets.

Shortly after, Chief Arredondo made a phone call from the scene, reaching a police department landline. He described the situation and requested a radio, a rifle and a contingent of heavily armed officers, according to the law enforcement official familiar with the initial response, who described it on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to publicly disclose the details.

The decision to establish a perimeter outside the classroom, just over five minutes after the shooting began, shifted the police response from one in which every officer would attempt to confront the shooter as quickly as possible to another in which officers treated the shooter as barricaded and no longer kills. Instead of storming the classroom, it was decided to deploy a negotiator and assemble a more heavily armed and protected tactical entry force.

“They made the wrong decision, defining this as a hostage barricade situation,” said Bill Francis, a former FBI agent who was a senior member of the bureau’s hostage rescue team for 17 years. “The longer you delay finding and eliminating this threat, the longer it must continue to kill other victims.”

Inside, the shooter moved between the two adjoining classrooms. After leaving her room, Khloie said, she called quietly, “Is anyone okay? Is anyone hurt ?

“Yeah,” replied a classmate.

“Just shut up, so he doesn’t come back here,” Khloie recalled responding. Another child asked for help to remove Ms. Garcia’s body.

Lance B. Holton