AUSTIN (KXAN) –A day after video from inside Robb Elementary during a deadly school shooting in Uvalde was leaked to the public, families, lawmakers and experts are responding.
The full 77-minute leaked video was published by the Austin American-Statesman on Tuesday. The report featured video from the hallway of the school, but also surveillance footage from outside the school and an officer’s body camera video.
Kenneth S. Trump is the President of National School Safety and Security Services, a Cleveland-based national consulting firm specializing in school security and emergency preparedness training. He watched the video and walked KXAN investigator Avery Travis through the moments that stood out to him.
He said certain actions of officers in the video raise “some troubling questions” about incident command at the scene — basically, who was in charge?
“The fact that you had officers standing still — not moving. Some people directing them to stand back, while others are moving forward,” Trump explained. “There just appeared to be a general chaos in the hallway with people not knowing what to do. Those who appeared to be prepared and know what to do, appeared to be held back or restrained — or at least that confused by everything else that was going on around them with officers who were standing still.”
He said he believes when orders are coming from one “unified command,” it would be clear — with officers moving in the same direction. Instead, he referred to the movements by the officers inside the school as a “free-for-all.”
There has been intense debate surrounding the actions of law enforcement, and particularly around who was serving as the on-scene commander during the incident. In a hearing before lawmakers in June, the Director of the Texas Department of Public safety, Col. Steven McCraw, placed the blame on Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo. In a later interview, Chief Arredondo told the Texas Tribune he never considered himself the commander and instead took on the role of a front-line responder.
“When you have an active shooter, there’s going to be challenges. It’s not going to be perfect to textbook style. It just appeared that no one had that type of training, planning or practicing ahead of time,” he said.
Trump believes smaller departments should be engaging in even more training.
“It is… more the reason to have basic tools to breach a classroom with, more the reason to work on your communications equipment and with your mutual aid partners in advance, so that they know what to do when a real incident happens,” he said. “The time to figure out your unified command — your incident command, who’s in charge and what to do — is not in the middle of the hallway during a crisis. It’s to have that planning done ahead of time, prior to an incident ever occurring.”
Trump acknowledged that there is likely context missing from the video that would need to be gathered through interviews with officers. That’s a point of frustration expressed by lawmakers on the Texas House committee investigating the incident.
Still, Trump said there were moments seen in the video that seem “hard to justify.”
“I think that most law enforcement officials across the country feel that the amount of time that was spent to enter that room was far too much.”