I continue not to understand why a town with its own police force and its own SWAT team hadn’t already neutralized the shooter by the time the immigration agents got there. Reportedly, the agents don’t understand it either.
But as bad as it was that Uvalde had to rely on federal officers to handle this, worse is the fact that the feds weren’t allowed to handle it at first. According to the Times, the BP and ICE units were held back before finally being allowed to take the shooter down around 45 minutes after they had first arrived.
The agents from Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrived at some point between 12 p.m. and 12:10 p.m., according to the officials — far earlier than previously known. But they did not breach the adjoining classrooms of the school where the gunman had locked himself in until a little before 1 p.m. Members of the federal tactical team killed the gunman.
The officials said that members of the Uvalde Police Department kept the federal agents from going in sooner…
The Border Patrol and ICE agents did not understand why they were left to wait, according to the official. Eventually, the specialized Border Patrol team went into the building…
The federal officers had driven up from the Mexican border, one official said. The official said it was not clear to the federal agents why their team was needed, and why the local SWAT team did not respond.
The argument for Uvalde cops holding back the parents outside is that the parents were unarmed, untrained, and therefore probably would have gotten themselves killed if they had entered the school to try to confront the shooter.
What’s the argument for holding back armed and trained federal officers?
As a local cop, wouldn’t it hurt your pride to have to rely on the feds to do the job you were supposed to be doing? Border Patrol wasn’t required to be there. They drove up to Uvalde, it would appear, in the idle belief that they might be able to assist somehow in a chaotic situation. Little did they know.
The details of the press conference John wrote about earlier are making me dizzy. “Nearly 20 officers stood in a hallway outside of the classrooms during this week’s attack on a Texas elementary school for more than 45 minutes before agents used a master key to open a door and confront a gunman,” the AP story about the presser begins. But here’s the haunting detail:
McCraw said there was a barrage of gunfire shortly after Ramos entered the classroom where they killed Ramos but that shots were “sporadic” for much of the 48 minutes while officers waited outside the hallway. He said investigators do not know if or how many children died during those 48 minutes.
What did they think the shooter was doing when he was firing? Did they assume that all of the kids inside with him were already dead by that point and that he was shooting out the window at the police?
I almost can’t bring myself to ask this but I have to: Did they hear any children screaming on the other side of the door while they stood there for 48 minutes?
They must have known that some kids in the room were alive, as a few were on the phone with 911 sporadically: “From 12:03 to 12:46, 911 dispatchers received numerous calls from within the classroom, including repeated calls from a child whispering that people were dead and begging: ‘Please send the police now,’ Mr. McCraw said.”
The only non-insane scenario I can envision for all this is that they thought it had become a hostage situation and that the shots they occasionally heard were the shooter taking potshots at bystanders out the window. In other words, he had stopped executing children and they didn’t want to scare him into executing more by trying to barge in.
But why assume that he was shooting out the window instead of killing more kids? And why is shooting at bystanders outside the school any less urgent than shooting at the children around him?
>> @ShimonPro‘s first Q at the press conference: “You say there were 19 officers gathered in the hallway or somewhere. What efforts were made to try and break through that door? You say it was locked. What efforts were the officers making?” The awful answer: “None at that time.” pic.twitter.com/qM1liHrY2e
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) May 27, 2022
Student calls to 911:
12:03—whispered she’s in room 112
12:10—said multiple dead
12:16—says 8-9 students alive
12:19—student calls from room 111
12:21—3 shots heard on call
12:43—asks for police
12:47—asks for policehttps://t.co/CzkuF1llq1
— Mike Baker (@ByMikeBaker) May 27, 2022
There’s destined to be a federal investigation of this police response. I think.
But I wouldn’t bet the mortgage on it. Check out the White House’s surprisingly subdued reaction yesterday to the police clusterf**k in Uvalde:
‘We won’t prejudge the results…it is always a good idea to look back and try to find any lessons we can learn,’ said press sec Karine Jean-Pierre when asked about the WH’s view on the police response to the Uvalde shooting pic.twitter.com/OIJWUxjtX1
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) May 26, 2022
That smells to me like an administration that’s deathly afraid of handing the GOP a new club to beat them with before the midterms. Some Biden staffers are Obama alumni and doubtless remember the “police acted stupidly” fiasco early in O’s first term. For sure, they all remember how badly “defund the police” hurt their party in the 2020 elections. Biden has strained ever since to counterprogram that message in order to help his moderates in Congress. If he brings down the hammer on the Uvalde cops prematurely and it turns out their response wasn’t as bad as it looks to all the world to be, Republicans will destroy him for demonizing law enforcement. It’ll be “defund the police” on steroids. So Team Joe needs to go slowly here.
Besides, they want the national debate to be about gun control, right? The more outrage there is about police incompetence, the less attention is paid to the Democrats’ pet issue. But even Biden can bite his tongue for only so long. Disgust at the police reaction is rising and bipartisan; he’ll have to speak up sometime soon. Albeit carefully.