Texas shooting: Schools call for police chief to be fired over botched response

Last week a CCTV video was released which showed how police waited 77 minutes to enter the classroom where the massacre took place. Credit: Austin American-Statesman

A top school official has called for the firing of the police chief who was central to the botched response to the shooting that killed two teachers and 19 students at a Texas primary school.

Uvalde's school board will hold a special meeting on Saturday to consider Superintendent Hal Harrell's recommendation to sack Chief Pete Arredondo, after 400 police officers failed to stop the gunman from murdering 21 pupils and staff.

Mr Arredondo has been accused by state officials of making several critical mistakes during the May 24 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School.

Last week, a CCTV video was released which showed how police waited 77 minutes to enter the classroom where the massacre took place.

It also depicts police officers running away from the classroom where the attack happened, as they hear gunfire.

The newly released video added to the anger over the failed police operation, depicting in devastating clarity the actions of killer Salvador Ramos and slow response of the police.

Police wait in the corridor while Ramos is inside the classroom. Credit: Austin American-Statesman

The recommendation to fire Mr Arredondo comes two days after a meeting in which school board members were grilled by members of the public who accused them of failing to implement basic security at the school.

They also criticised the board members for not being transparent about what happened that day, and for failing to hold Mr Arredondo to account for his actions.

Mr Arredondo, who has been on leave from the district since June 22, has faced blistering criticism since the killings, particularly for not ordering officers to immediately enter the classroom.

His attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Nineteen children and two teachers were murdered by Ramos. Credit: Austin American-Statesman

In a damning 80-page report by a Texas House committee that blamed all levels of law enforcement for the slow and chaotic response, the police chief is specifically singled out and criticised for wasting “precious time” searching for a key to the classroom.

Mr Arredondo told lawmakers he didn’t consider himself the on-scene commander in charge and that his priority was to protect children in other classrooms, according to the committee.

The committee's report called that decision a “terrible, tragic mistake.”

Body camera footage released by the Uvalde officials shows Mr Arredondo in the hallway trying multiple sets of keys on other classroom doors, but not the one where the shooting happened.

The classroom door could not be locked from the inside, but there is no indication officers tried to open the door while the gunman was inside.

“Our thought was: ‘If he comes out, you know, you eliminate the threat,’ correct?” Mr Arredondo told the committee, according to the report.

“Just the thought of other children being in other classrooms, my thought was: ‘We can’t let him come back out. If he comes back out, we take him out, or we eliminate the threat.’”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...