This story is part of a KXAN series of reports called “Stop Mass Shootings,” providing context and exploring solutions surrounding gun violence in the wake of the deadly Uvalde school shooting. We want our reports to be a resource for Texans, as well as for lawmakers who are convening a month after the events in Uvalde to discuss how the state should move forward. Explore all “Stop Mass Shootings” stories by clicking here.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — The surveillance video showing the Robb Elementary School shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers is putting into focus testimony given by the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety last month.
The video was leaked to the Austin American-Statesman days before victims’ families were set to watch the video for the first time.
The 77-minute video shows officers rush into the school minutes after the gunman fired shots as he entered a classroom. The officers, then, run from the door after additional shots were fired.
It would be more than an hour, as officers from multiple agencies arrived, before they would breach the classroom door and kill the shooter.
The video also shows one of the officers checking his phone. Texas State Rep. Joe Moody identified him as married to teacher Eva Mireles, who contacted him from her classroom after she had been shot.
“That’s my wife’s classroom,” an officer can be heard saying on the leaked video less than a minute later.
Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw described that moment and their findings during testimony in front of lawmakers in June. He said not long after the officer checked his phone, he received a call from his wife.
“He tried to move forward into the hallway. He was detained, and they took his gun away from him and escorted him off the scene,” McCraw said.
Moody highlighted a New York Post article that called out the officer as checking his phone and shared his response on Twitter.
“I’d not planned to speak publicly until the report was released, but I couldn’t say nothing seeing this man, who’s lost everything, maligned as if he was indifferent or actively malicious. Context matters.”
He continued, “To those who haven’t bothered to read even the news that’s been reported in your rush to judgment, he attempted to engage but was removed from the building and disarmed. We’ll have much to say about the police response, but no criticism of this officer.”
McCraw also faced questions about why officers, including his own, did not advance and breach the classroom sooner.
“It is our policy to follow the on-scene commander. It is dangerous if you do not,” McCraw said during a June Senate hearing.
ALERRT released a report in early July criticizing the law enforcement response to the May 24 shooting. The report stated, “when the officers were fired at, momentum was lost. The officers fell back, and it took more than an hour to regain momentum and gain access to critically-injured people.”
The leaked video shows most of the gunshots were fired inside of the classroom before officers entered the elementary school. But, throughout the more than hour officers were in the building, more gunfire was audible through the surveillance recording. Still, officers did not advance on the classroom door.
Instead, multiple officers stood at the end of the hallway with their rifles focused on the area just outside the classroom door where the shooter was located.
It is unclear if the video the Texas House Investigatory committee plans to release to families and the public on Sunday will show more of the response.
A source close to the committee told KXAN the video set to be released Sunday will be a 77-minute unedited video of the school hallways with no sound.
The leaked video by the Austin American-Statesman Tuesday included cell phone video, body-worn camera video and surveillance video from outside of the school.
The committee also plans to release its report, which will include parts of the never-before-heard testimony given by the Uvalde sheriff and Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo during closed-door sessions.