Security footage shows officers at the school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, waited 77 minutes before even attempting to open the doors of two classrooms where the gunman killed 19 children and two teachers last month, a new report said.
The latest disclosure, published Saturday by The San Antonio Express News, is the latest detail showing a botched police response to the massacre, now under investigation by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Video shows gunman Salvador Ramos, 18, able to open Class 111’s door on May 24, though it had to lock automatically when closed and could only be opened from the outside with a key, the newspaper said.
Once inside the classroom, Ramos had access to Class 112 through another interior door.
It was unclear if the door was locked while Ramos carried out the shooting, but police didn’t even check or attempt to open the door, despite having access to a Halligan tool that could have broken the lock, the report said. .
Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo was in charge of the operation. He previously told The Texas Tribune that he waited 40 minutes for keys from the custodian to try to open the classroom door.
Footage now shows that when Arredondo was eventually given the key fob, he tried to open other doors to find a master key, not the doors to class 111 and 112, according to the Express News.
“Every time I tried a key, I was just praying,” Arredondo told the Texas Tribune. “All that was important to me right now was to save as many teachers and children as possible.”
He tried dozens of keys but told officers to wait for a tactical team if none worked, the report said.
Finally, at 12:50 pm, the police broke into the door and shot and killed the suspect who had broken into the school for the first time at 11:33 am through an outside door that also did not lock automatically.
During that excruciating and deadly 77-minute period, seven desperate 911 calls were made by students and teachers in the classrooms under fire as the carnage piled up.
Texas investigators say Arredondo incorrectly treated the shooting as a barricaded suspected incident rather than an active gunman situation, with the top priority for police to confront the suspect to stop the violence.