(Headline USA) The actions—or more notably, the inaction—of a school district police chief and other law enforcement officers have become the center of the investigation into theschool shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
The delay in confronting the shooter, who was inside the school for more than an hour, could lead to discipline, lawsuits and even criminal charges against police.
In the aftermath of the attack, the police offered a confusing and sometimes contradictory timeline that drew public anger and frustration.
The authorities acknowledged that students and teachers repeatedly begged 911 operators for help while the police chief told more than a dozen officers to wait in a hallway at Robb Elementary School. Officials said he believed the suspect was barricaded inside adjoining classrooms and that there was no longer an active attack.
The chief’s decision—and the officers’ apparent willingness to follow his directives against established active-shooter protocols—prompted questions about whether more lives were lost because officers did not act faster to stop the gunman, and who should be held responsible.
“In these cases, I think the court of public opinion is far worse than any court of law or police department administrative trial,” said Joe Giacalone, a retired New York police sergeant. “This has been handled so terribly on so many levels, there will be a sacrificial lamb here or there.”
As the gunman fired at students, law enforcement officers from other agencies urged the school police chief to let them move in because children were in danger, two law enforcement officials said.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they had not been authorized to talk publicly about the investigation.
One of the officials said audio recordings from the scene capture officers from other agencies telling the school police chief that the shooter was still active and that the priority was to stop him. But it wasn’t clear why the school chief ignored their warnings.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who at a news conference earlier in the week lauded the police for saving lives, said he had been misled about the initial response and promised there would be investigations into “exactly who knew what, when, who was in charge” and what they did.
“The bottom line would be: Why did they not choose the strategy that would have been best to get in there and to eliminate the killer and to rescue the children?” Abbott said.
Criminal charges are rarely pursued against law enforcement in school shootings.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press.