Police Didn’t Check Classroom’s Lock During Uvalde Shooting, DPS Says

  • Police never checked to see if the classroom door was locked during the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting, a state official said.
  • Col. Steve McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the door was “unsecured.”
  • Authorities wasted time waiting for a key to the door that was not needed, McCraw said. 

Police who responded to the Uvalde, Texas, deadly school shooting never checked to see if the door to the classroom where the gunman carried out the rampage was locked, even as authorities wasted time waiting for a key, a top state law enforcement official said on Tuesday. 

Col. Steve McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, described the door to the Robb Elementary School classroom where a shooter killed 19 children and two teachers last month as “unsecured” in testimony before a Texas State Senate committee investigating the May 24 mass shooting. 

“I don’t believe based on the information we have right now that that door was ever secured,” McCraw said, explaining that the door was not able to be locked from the inside. “In fact, I have great reason to believe it wasn’t secured.”

“There’s no way to lock the door from the inside and there’s no way for the subject to lock the door from the inside,” he said.

McCraw called it “ridiculous” and “inexcusable” in terms of security purposes for the door to have only been able to lock from the outside.

He added: “The door was unsecured and we’ve gone back and checked in our interviews and did anybody touch the door, and try it?”

“How about trying the door, and seeing if it’s unlocked … and of course, no one had,” McCraw said.

McCraw said that based on reviews of police body-camera footage, “​​We could never see anybody put their hand on the door up until the breach.”

The 18-year-old gunman entered the school building at 11:33 a.m, but it wasn’t until 12:50 p.m. that authorities breached the classroom door and shot and killed the shooter. 

It took 74 minutes for officers to go into the classroom where the gunman went on the shooting spree and stop him, even though students trapped inside repeatedly called 911 for help. 

McCraw said that even if the classroom door was locked, authorities could have found another way inside. 

“You didn’t need a key, there’s tools,” McCraw said, adding, “You don’t have to wait for a key and shouldn’t ever have to wait for a key to breach.”

“If you’re there on the scene you have an obligation to immediately engage the shooter and stop the shooting,” said McCraw. “That’s preached, practiced and required in the state of Texas. It just wasn’t implemented.”

A newly released timeline from the Texas Department of Public Safety shows how embattled school district police chief Pete Arredondo — who has been identified by the agency as the on-scene commander during the shooting — begged for a key to open the classroom door. 

According to the timeline, Arredondo requested a master key at 12:11 p.m. as dozens of officers from multiple agencies converged on the school. 

At 12:16 p.m., Arredondo said, “I just need a key” and about a minute later, he told others cops, “Tell them to fucking wait. No one comes in,” according to a transcript of officers’ body camera footage. 

“There is a window over there obviously. The door is probably going to be locked. That is the nature of this place. I am going to get more keys to test,” Arredondo said at 12:28 p.m., according to the transcript. 

Seconds later, Arredondo said, “These master keys aren’t working here, bro. We have master keys and they’re not working,” the transcript shows. 

Two minutes later, Arredondo added, “We’re ready to breach but that door is locked,” according to the transcript. 

“I say we breach through those windows and shoot his fucking head off through the windows,” Arredondo said three minutes later, the transcript says. 

According to the timeline released by DPS, a “hooligan” breaching tool arrived at the school at 12:35 p.m., but it does not appear that it was ever used. 

“We’re having a fucking problem getting into the room because it is locked. He’s [the gunman] got an AR-15 and he’s shooting everywhere like crazy. So, he’s stopped,” Arredondo said at 12:42 p.m., according to the transcript. 

One minute later, Arredondo said, “They gotta get that fucking door open, bro. They can’t get that door open. We need more keys or something,” the transcript shows. 

During his testimony on Tuesday, McCraw slammed the police response to the school shooting as an “abject failure.”

McCraw said three minutes after the gunman entered the school, there was a “sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract, and neutralize the subject.” 

“I appear to be hypercritical of the on-scene commander and I don’t mean to be, but the facts are the facts,” McCraw said. “Mistakes were made, it should have never happened that way.”

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