The Uvalde massacre:
What a failure to respond looks like
Three hundred seventy-six law enforcement officers arrived at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, 2022, in response to an active shooter. Within hours, it was clear that something had gone very wrong with that response.
Why had it taken 77 minutes for officers to confront and kill the teenage shooter from the time he entered the school through an unlocked door? It’s a question that remains unanswered one year since the massacre, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers.
Various accounts of the events and actions that were given by officials were sometimes misleading or just plain wrong. With still no full accounting, CNN analyzed hours of body camera and surveillance video, as well as radio and phone calls obtained by CNN, to piece together what happened, minute by minute.
This timeline shows the initial action – and then the almost immediate loss of impetus – to get to the gunman. It shows how quickly senior officers arrived and the key moments that should have changed everything, but which were ignored: the school police officer saying his wife was shot; a child trapped with the gunman calling 911 for help; even a burst of gunfire dispelling any notion the shooter was dead.
Here’s what happened:
12 minutes before the 18-year-old gunman entered Robb Elementary School, he sends a text message to a friend writing that he had shot his grandmother in the head. He says that he is going to “go shoot up” an elementary school.
The gunman drives down South Grove St. and crashes his grandmother’s truck near the Hillcrest Memorial Funeral Home.
Two people come out of the funeral home and walk towards the crash site, but when the shooter fires three bullets at them they run back inside.
A Robb Elementary teacher calls 911 to report a man with a gun.
“Oh my God he has a gun!” the teacher is heard on a recording of the 911 call.
The gunman fires as he walks between the ditch where he crashed his truck and the school, passing through cars in the parking lot.
The gunman fires 27 shots into two classrooms from outside the school.
The teacher who was on the 911 call goes inside room 132.
Another teacher steps outside room 116, looks down the hallway and then goes back inside the room. Teacher Irma Garcia steps outside room 112 and tries unsuccessfully to lock the door.
The gunman enters the school through the unlocked west entrance door and turns right, heading down the hallway.
A boy exits the bathroom, looks down the hallway, sees the gunman and runs back into the bathroom.
The gunman fires outside rooms 112 and 111.
The gunman enters room 112 and fires more than 100 rounds in that room and the adjoining room 111 over about the next 2 and a half minutes.
The gunman doesn’t move from these two rooms throughout the duration of the attack.
First three responding officers arrive through the west door.
Seconds later, three officers arrive through the south door, including Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, the school district’s police chief at the time. More officers arrive shortly after at each entrance.
Shots fired inside the building Uvalde!Police officer running toward south entrance
The first three officers through the west door proceed down the hallway, approaching rooms 111 and 112.
Three officers congregate just north of the doors, while four officers congregate south of room 111.
Two officers go past the bathrooms and look into other rooms on either side.
The gunman fires additional shots, causing shrapnel to graze officers at the doors, and those officers retreat.
Texas Department of Public Safety sergeant arrives on scene outside the west door.
More than five officers are now gathered at the start of the hallway. School police officer announces to them that the attack is happening in his wife’s classroom, 112.
He’s in this building, we have him containedOfficer radios from outside south door
One officer from the north end goes down the left side of the hallway to the double doors before the janitor’s closet and crosses to the right side where he can see the entrance to rooms 111 and 112.
The gunman fires one round inside classrooms 111 and 112.
I need a lot of firepower, so I need this building surrounded. I need it surrounded with as many AR-15s as possible.Arredondo calls the 911 dispatcher from the south hallway
“Male subject is in the school, on the west side of the building. He’s contained. We got multiple officers inside the building at this time. Believe he is barricaded in one of the offices. A male subject, still shooting,” an officer radios from outside the south door.
It’s going to be Ms. Mireles’ classroom. See if the class is in there right now or if they’re somewhere else.Overheard on police radio
More officers enter through the east door.
Gunman fires one round inside the classrooms.
School police officer reports that his wife, a teacher at the school, called him: “She says she is shot.”
Uvalde County Sheriff Ruben Nolasco arrives at Robb Elementary from the direction of the funeral home.
Border Patrol agents arrive through the west door.
A teacher comes out of room 129 and is escorted out through the east door.
A boy is found in the bathroom opposite room 130 by a DPS special agent. The boy runs down the hallway and makes it out of the building.
Apparently by chance, officer opens unlocked door to room 102 and sees students. “Hey, we got kids here!”
Children start escaping from room 102 through the window.
A staffer in room 116 is persuaded to open the door and is able to escape.
In the south hallway, Arredondo, the school police chief, tries to start negotiations.
Children escape from the window in room 103.
Fourth-grader Khloie Torres activates the emergency call feature on teacher Eva Mireles’ phone in room 112.
Police officers outside the school building break the window to room 104.
Kids climb out of the window from room 104 to the outside of the building.
Kids climb out of the window from room 106 to the outside of the building.
Police officer opens unlocked door to 108, finds teacher and more children.
Ten students and one teacher come out of room 108, run to exit out the south door.
Police officers outside the school building break the window to room 105.
Arredondo asks another officer to get a master key from a school official.
Time is on our side right now. I know we probably have kids in there but we’ve got to save the lives of the other ones.Arredondo
Detective at the west door entrance asks Lt. Mariano Pargas, the acting police chief: “Are we just waiting for BORTAC or what’s going on?” and is told “They tell me a DPS Ranger has somebody in there and come in…”
There’s a school shooting. I’m in classroom … 112 … Please hurry. There is a lot of dead bodies. Please get help.Khloie calls 911 a second time from room 112
The information from Khloie’s 911 call is broadcast on the radio priority channel confirming that room 112 is “full of victims.”
I need help … please. Have y’all captured the person?Khloie on the same 911 call from room 112
A backpack is found on the ground outside room 104’s window with ammunition. A police officer announces on the radio that there are “about 30 magazines fully loaded.”
A child just called that they have victims in there.Acting city police chief tells BORTAC Commander Paul Guerrero.
Send an ambulance right away.Khloie on the same 911 call from room 112
School police officer outside the building hands over some keys to another officer who takes them to Arredondo.
Pargas is told by a dispatcher that 8-9 students are alive in room 112.
Keys handed to Arredondo.
Tell them to f**king wait. No one comes in.Arredondo to another officer in hallway about possible breach team
Arredondo tries keys on room 109 but is unsuccessful and sees children inside.
Do you want me to open the door now?Khloie to 911 from room 112
Acting city police chief Pargas reenters west door, tells Guerrero that there are injured victims: “Someone called 911 – there’s nine injured.”
Another officer tries to open the lock of room 109 with a knife.
How far are y’all away?Khloie to 911 from room 112
Pargas leaves the hallway.
Another fourth-grader, Miah Cerrillo, pleads with 911 on the same call: “Please can you send help.”
Four shots are fired inside rooms 111 and 112.
He’s shootingMiah on the 911 call in room 112
More than 10 officers approach the classrooms and stop near the janitor’s door.
Officer at south door sends other officers to break windows of room 109 from the outside of the building.
For the next three minutes, children are brought out through the broken window in room 109.
Guerrero returns back to the north end of the hallway and the Ranger enters the hallway saying, “I’ll try to talk to him.”
Guerrero goes back to the double doors before the janitor room. Meanwhile, in the south hallway, Arredondo calls out to the shooter in English and Spanish.
EMTs start setting up a triage area outside the bathrooms on the north side.
Guerrero tries keys on the janitor’s office next to room 112.
Injured teacher is the last out of the window from room 109.
Got a team ready to go? Have at it.Arredondo in the south hallway heard on a body camera
The door’s going to probably be locked. It probably is going to be locked. That’s the nature of the place … I’m going to get more keys and test some of these doors over here.Arredondo, on phone
Can you get one of the custodians to come to the south door?Arredondo on phone
Can you hear us sir? Please don’t hurt anyone. These are innocent children. Please put your firearm down. We don’t want anyone else hurt.Arredondo, speaking directly to the gunman
EMS team lines up with a gurney outside the west door.
A sledgehammer is brought in through the east door and carried down toward the classrooms.
The team that’s going to make breach needs to stand by. The team that’s gonna breach needs to stand by.Radio call from DPS Capt. Joel Betancourt made outside the school
No one responds to Betancourt’s order.
Guerrero opens the door to room 111 and the breach team enters. The gunman comes out of the supply closet and opens fire. The breach team fires back, killing him. At least two students and one teacher are still alive when they are rushed out of room 111 and 112 but die later that day.