We’ve written a lot of articles at TTAG about the shooting in Uvalde, Texas. But now, the better part of two years later, people are still looking at the facts from that day and trying to find more and better ways of preventing this kind of tragedy from occurring in the future. One source is the ALERRT report on the tragedy, which was analyzed at the Surviving The Streets YouTube channel.
In the video, we can learn a lot more about how the situation unfolded and learn or reinforce key lessons. This video is great because it not only shares the facts, but tries to put them in as much perspective as possible, including maps of the site, surveillance footage, and what people knew at the time they made decisions. (article continues after embedded video)
A number of important lost opportunities to stop the killing were identified, and I’ve added some of my own because I’m less “reasonable” than government officials.
Lost Opportunity #1: Citizen Responders
One very early opportunity to stop the whole incident came right at the beginning, when the shooter crashed his truck into a ditch near the school. Two men from a nearby business ran to help, but were chased away by rifle fire. I can’t blame these men for running, but what if one or both of them had been armed and ready to respond like Eli Dicken?
We have to remember that police, fire and EMS personnel are rarely really first responders, but often arrive on the scene after citizens have already been trying to help. So, this highlights our need to be more responsible citizens and stand ready to stop killers.
Lost Opportunity #2: Poor Patrol Rifle Standards
Another even better opportunity to stop the shooter came not long later.
A Uvalde police officer, armed with a rifle, saw the shooter outside with his rifle, and had an opportunity to engage with the shooter before he entered the building. But, instead of doing the right thing and acting fast to save lives, the officer instead radioed for permission to engage, despite knowing that the guy had already been shooting at people outside. This permission did not come in time (it NEVER should have been asked for).
The shot needed to stop the shooter would have been at 148 yards, which is well within the effective range of even a semi-competent shooter with an AR-15. This shows the importance of training for longer shots and not assuming that long shots are not relevant to defensive shooting. It’s not always you that needs defending, so this need for better marksmanship applies for both police and non-police.
Sadly, Texas law enforcement officers are not required to shoot accurately at beyond 100 yards for their patrol rifle qualifications. If that hasn’t changed since 2022, it should change immediately. Hits on man-sized targets at a minimum of 300 yards seems reasonable, especially with LPVOs and RDS becoming common on patrol rifles.
Lost Opportunity #3, #4, and #5: Unprepared School Staff and Facilities
While this epic failure was going on outside, teachers inside were doing everything they could to get students into classrooms and get ready for a possible shooter. A teacher attempted to close an open door, and expected it to lock, but it did not and the teacher did not verify that it was locked. Using painted rocks to hold doors open was common practice at the time, and the door was weak enough that it could have been broken to gain entry That’s a third opportunity that was missed to stop the shooter.
A fourth opportunity to stop him could have happened by engaging the lock to Room 111 in the school. Unlike other rooms, he was able to simply open the door and walk in several times because the door was probably not locked to begin with.
Additionally, the school’s staff was not armed and ready to repel the shooter. That’s a fifth failure to act that happened long before the shooting.
Dozens Of Additional Lost Opportunities To Reduce The Number Of Dead
It was only at this point, after several good opportunities had been squandered by an individual officer and society at large, that the killing of children commenced. But, there were more opportunities to stop the killing.
From 11:33 AM to 11:36 AM, the shooter had several minutes of unopposed killing, despite police being nearby and aware that he had entered the school. Did any of them beat their feet and get in there to stop the killing the way every post-9/11 and post-Columbine cop had been trained to do? Not for minutes.
Despite arriving in numbers, the officers’ initial attempt to take the shooter on failed, with the police retreating at 11:37 AM, despite several of them having their own rifles. Police may need to seriously consider providing better Level 3+ or Level 4 armor to at least some officers with patrol rifles, but more importantly, police officers should assume that they need to risk their own lives in these situations, like officers did in Tennessee the following year.
A minute later, the police determine that the suspect was contained and advise as much over the radio, but they aren’t aware that there are still children and adults alive in the room with him, some bleeding out.
At 11:41 AM, officers are unsure whether the door is locked, but advise that they have a tool to break in. Three minutes later, another round is fired. Minutes later, a police officer arrives and tells people that his wife is inside and has been shot, but hasn’t died yet.
Twenty long minutes after the shooter entered the building, police officers from a variety of departments had arrived on the scene. At 11:52, a ballistic shield arrives in the hallway (another great opportunity to engage). A second shield arrives at 12:03 PM. A minute later, a third shield arrives. Minutes later, police became aware that there were people alive in the rooms via 911 calls.
At 12:15, more ballistic shields showed up, along with BORTAC, a U.S. Border Patrol tactical team. Shooting continued at 12:21, and police did not engage. At this point, BORTAC advanced up the hall, but did not assault the room. Police spent the next 10-15 minutes continuing to talk about what to do. It’s clear by this point that BORTAC knew the situation and did not go in.
A breaching tool arrives in the hallway at 12:35 PM, but the assault doesn’t start until 12:50, well over an hour after the shooting began. During this time, it should be noted that police outside were physically assaulting parents who wanted to go in and do their jobs.
Civilian Disarmament Fanatics Want Us To Forget All Of The Above
Whenever anyone tries to tell you that gun control was opportunity zero, remind them that there were plenty of other opportunities and that gun control does not make us safer. Shooting back and stopping the action early gives us much better chances.