The latest on the Uvalde school massacre investigation

By Dakin Andone, Ray Sanchez, Derrick Hinds and Adrienne Vogt, CNN

Updated 3:08 p.m. ET, June 21, 2022
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12:01 p.m. ET, June 21, 2022

Law enforcement response to Uvalde shooting was "an abject failure," DPS director says

At the top of his remarks before the Texas Senate Committee, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety said there was "compelling evidence" the law enforcement response to the Uvalde shooting was a failure.

Director Steven McCraw noted it had been 28 days since the shooting, and there remains much to be done before the investigation is completed and presented to the district attorney.

"However, we do know this: There's compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure and antithetical to everything we've learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre," McCraw said.

"Three minutes after the subject entered the west building, there was a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract and neutralize the subject. The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children."
11:36 a.m. ET, June 21, 2022

Robb Elementary School shooter, on "pathway to violence," purchased weapon accessories before guns

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess.

An FBI agent walks by the outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 25, one day after the school shooting.
An FBI agent walks by the outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 25, one day after the school shooting. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images)

Robb Elementary School shooter Salvador Ramos was on “a pathway to violence” at least eight months prior to the attack, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Col. Steven McCraw told the Texas Senate Special Committee to Protect All Texans on Tuesday.

Ramos had asked a family member to purchase him a weapon, but they refused because Ramos was 17 years old at the time, according to McGraw.

Ramos then began making several purchases for rifle accessories, specifically magazines, as well as slings and high-end optics, McCraw said. 

“And he had money. He had money in a bank joint bank account,” McCraw added. “He had money and in a joint account with his grandmother, and used the debit card to make those online purchases.”

The day of his birthday, May 16, Ramos was eligible to purchase a weapon and purchased two 5.56 millimeter rifles, according to the DPS colonel.

11:18 a.m. ET, June 21, 2022

Law enforcement did not use lessons learned from Columbine in Uvalde response, Texas official says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt and Ray Sanchez

Col. Steven McCraw, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, today invoked how the 1999 Columbine shooting changed the way law enforcement responds to active shooter situations.

During the Texas House Committee hearing on the Uvalde school massacre, McCraw said:

"There's compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure and antithetical to everything we've learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre."

In 2018, James Gagliano, a retired member of the FBI’s elite hostage rescue team, explained to CNN what exactly the response entails.

"You’re going to the sound of the guns," Gagliano said. "The number one goal is to interdict the shooter or shooters. In the old days, you took land. You went in. You clear the room. Then you slowly and methodically move to clear the next room. In this instance … get to the shooter as quickly as possible and that’s what they clearly did here."

An exhaustive FBI review of the police response at Columbine led to a more rapid response strategy during active shooter situations, according to Gagliano.

Before the Colorado shooting, responding officers would set up a secure perimeter around the crime scene before even thinking about moving on the suspect.

"Nowadays, what we do is go to the sound of the guns," Gagliano said. "You get one, two, three, four people together. We’re trained. We use particular formations."

The police response in Uvalde has been criticized, with responding officers not stopping a gunman until 77 minutes after he entered Robb Elementary School and killed 19 children and two teachers.

1:35 p.m. ET, June 21, 2022

Students and teachers waited nearly an hour and 15 minutes to be rescued, DPS official says

(Austin American-Statesman)
(Austin American-Statesman)

Police waited one hour, 14 minutes and 8 seconds to breach the Robb Elementary classroom where the shooting occurred and rescue the students and teachers inside, Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw said.

"While they waited, the on-scene commander waited for a radio and rifles," McCraw said, referring to UCISD Police Chief Pedro "Pete" Arredondo. "Then he waited for shields. Then he waited for SWAT. Lastly, he waited for a key that was never needed."

McCraw's comments come as new details emerged about the police response, which has been widely criticized since the shooting.

Preliminary evidence suggests none of the officers attempted to open either of the doors until moments before taking down the gunman, according to a law enforcement source close to the investigation and reporting in the Texas Tribune and the Austin American-Statesman.

The officers were not without weaponry and equipment. One security footage image obtained by the Austin American-Statesman shows at least three officers in the hallway – two of whom have rifles and one who appears to have a tactical shield – at 11:52 a.m., 19 minutes after the gunman entered the school.

Still, they remained in a hallway outside the classrooms and did not try to enter until 12:50 p.m.

10:54 a.m. ET, June 21, 2022

State Senator: "I saw seven baby girls and their coffins"

By Ray Sanchez

Texas State Sen. Roland Gutierrez grew emotional as he told committee members that he has spent about 20 of the last 28 days at the scene of the school massacre. For the first 14 days, he says, he would leave home at 5:30 a.m. and get back at 1 a.m.

He went to as many viewings as he could.

"I saw seven baby girls and their coffins. And I did this because I wanted to come back and talk to you all, and tell you what I saw and tell you the things that you don't ever want to see in your communities.

"I have heard the most gruesome stories from little kids... from fourth graders and stories that I dare not say at this time. I'd be glad to talk to you all privately about what little kids heard and saw the day."

He recalled families huddled in prayers at a reunification center.

"You all are fixers in this room... That day I couldn't fix anybody," he says.

"I didn't have the courage to put my arm around them and tell them I'm here for you. They didn't want to be talked to by their senator or by their governor or anybody. They wanted to be just alone with their loved ones waiting. As they received the most horrific news that they had ever heard, that any one of us with children or even any rational person would ever want to hear," Gutierrez said, his voice breaking.

"Their silence turned into the most awful screens that you could imagine," he said.

"These women and their husbands walked to their cars screaming, and tears and crying and sounds that weren't normal tears or normal crying... You don't want to live 14 days straight in a community talking to those families."
10:41 a.m. ET, June 21, 2022

Committee holds moment of silence in honor of Uvalde victims

Tuesday's hearing before the Senate Special Committee to Protect All Texans began with a call for a moment of silence by Sen. Robert Nichols, one of the committee's chairpersons, to "remember and honor the 19 students, 2 teachers and 17 who were injured in the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary."

Afterward, Nichols said the hearing Tuesday would cover three of the five topics it had been charged with, including police training, school safety and social media. The other two topics -- mental health and firearm safety -- will be covered Wednesday, Nichols said.

"The topics we're going to cover are sensitive in nature and will be difficult to talk about at times," Nichols said. "Nonetheless protecting our school children is the most pressing issue facing our state today."

Nichols asked committee members to come to the table without any specific policy recommendations in mind, saying it was important they be open-minded to the suggestions of witnesses.

He said:

"We cast a wide net in preparing for this hearing (and) understand that a multifaceted problem requires many different solutions. These tragedies sit at the crossroads of mental health, public education, criminal justice system, law enforcement and Second Amendment rights."
"Those systems failed Uvalde."


11:23 a.m. ET, June 21, 2022

Gov. Abbott asked for special legislative committees earlier this month

From CNN's Rebekah Riess

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott during a community-held vigil for the 21 people killed at Robb Elementary School, on May 25 in Uvalde, Texas.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott during a community-held vigil for the 21 people killed at Robb Elementary School, on May 25 in Uvalde, Texas. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requested both chambers of the state legislature form special legislative committees in response to the Robb Elementary shooting.

In a June 1 letter to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan, Abbott wrote the state of Texas "must reassess the twin issues of school safety and mass violence." He asked the committees to make recommendations to the state Legislature and the executive branch so "meaningful action" could be taken on:

  • School safety
  • Mental health
  • Social media
  • Police training
  • Firearm safety

The hearing Tuesday by the Senate Special Committee to Protect All Texans will be held as the Texas House committee holds a separate hearing, where Uvalde schools Police Chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo is expected to testify.

10:08 a.m. ET, June 21, 2022

McCraw previously said delayed entry to classroom was the "wrong decision"

In the days after the shooting, Texas Department of Public Safety Col. Steven McCraw said the incident commander made the wrong decision when he chose to not immediately breach the conjoined classrooms where the shooting occurred.

On May 27, as questions began to mount over the police response, McCraw said the classroom was not immediately breached because the commander -- the Uvalde school district's police chief -- believed the scene "had transitioned from an active shooter to a barricaded subject."

The commander, McCraw said at the time, believed "there was time to retrieve the keys and wait for a tactical team with the equipment to go ahead and breach the door and take on the subject."

“From the benefit of hindsight where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision,” McCraw said. “It was the wrong decision. Period. There’s no excuse for that.”

The tactical team eventually entered the room using keys from a janitor.

11:57 a.m. ET, June 21, 2022

Texas Department of Public Safety Col. Steven McCraw will testify at a hearing today

From CNN’s Rosa Flores and Rosalina Nieves

Texas Department of Public Safety Col. Steven McCraw will testify on the Uvalde School shooting today before the Texas Senate Committee to Protect All Texans, according to the office of Texas Senator Robert Nichols who chairs the committee.

McCraw and his team will display photos and diagrams of the school showing the layout of the classrooms, according to the chair’s office. McCraw could also reference and talk about transcripts, Nichol’s office said. McCraw is also expected to bring in a physical door during his testimony. Details on the door were not provided. 

The hearing will take place inside Texas Senate Chambers this morning.

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick tweeted the Texas Senate hearings will have the “latest DPS investigations on Uvalde.”

“The Senate believes all testimony should be in the open. The families & the public have a right to know,” Patrick tweeted.