'What are we doing here?': Uvalde police body camera video highlights chaos and delays

Dramatic police body camera video from the Uvalde school shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers in May shows multiple officers expressing confusion and doubt over the delay in moving in on the shooter.

“People are gonna ask why we’re taking so long,” an off-camera officer can be heard saying at one point, roughly an hour after officers first entered the Robb Elementary School on May 24.

But despite a clear sense of urgency, in the end, it would take law enforcement more than hour to take down the gunman in a police response that has been heavily criticized.

A scathing preliminary report by the Texas House committee investigating the mass shooting released Sunday found “systemic failure and egregiously poor decision making” by law enforcement and the school district.

Law enforcement at the scene after a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. Jordan Vonderhaar / Getty Images

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin also announced on Sunday that Uvalde’s acting chief of police, Lt. Mariano Pargas, has been placed on leave as a city launched an investigation of his response, as well as that of his officers.

In the string of body camera videos released by the Uvalde Police Department, officers can be seen smashing windows and helping children escape the deadly attack.

In one video captured early on in the police response to the massacre at Robb Elementary School on May 24, shots can be heard ringing out inside the school.

“Am I bleeding?” the officer whose body camera captured the footage can be heard saying, with the video later showing blood on his hand and the officer saying he was bleeding from his ear.

After briefly exiting the school, he can then be heard telling arriving officers: “We got to get in there.”

“Guy’s inside the classroom right now,” he says of the shooter, Salvador Ramos, 18.

In another video released by the Uvalde Police Department Sunday, an officer can be heard asking “what are we doing here?” around 20 minutes after appearing to arrive at the school.

Later in the video, authorities, including Texas Police Chief Pete Arredondo, can be seen struggling to find a key to get into a room near to where the gunman was carrying out his assault.

An off-camera voice can later be heard trying to communicate with the gunman, saying: “Mr. Ramos, can you hear us? Mr. Ramos?” addressing the shooter. “Please don’t hurt anyone. These are innocent children. Please put your firearm down. We don’t want anyone else hurt.”

As several minutes pass by, Arredondo, who has been on administrative leave from the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District since June 22, notes that officers are still having trouble getting into the room they are trying access.

“We’re having a problem getting into the f****** room because it’s locked,” he says.

In the 77-page report from the Texas House committee investigating the shooting authors says that beyond the gunman, no one else is to blame for the massacre. But while it said “there is no one to whom we can attribute malice or ill motives,” it highlighted “systemic failures and egregiously poor decision making” that may have impacted the outcome of the shooting.

Among those failings, the report said officers had assumed classroom doors were locked without seeing if that was true. It was not immediately clear if that was the case for the door Arredondo and other officers were trying to open.

However, the report noted that the door of Room 111, one of the two rooms in which the shooter was active, “probably was not effectively locked shut.”

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin  said he believed the police body camera footage provided “further necessary context” into the police response to the school massacre.

Lindsey Pipia, Juliette Arcodia and Michelle Acevedo contributed.

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