Robb Elementary Teacher Closed Door Before Attack But It Didn’t Lock
Police confirmed the teacher propped open the door with a rock but closed it before the gunman entered, contradicting an original statement.
The exterior door the gunman entered through at Robb Elementary School was closed by a teacher but did not automatically lock like it was supposed to, Texas authorities confirmed Tuesday.
The teacher, who has not been identified, propped the door open with a rock but then removed the rock and closed the door when she saw the shooter on campus, reports Yahoo News. Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Chief Communications Officer Travis Considine said the door was designed to lock when shut but it didn’t. Investigators are working to determine why the door malfunctioned.
“She came back out while on her phone, she heard someone yell, ‘He has a gun!’, she saw him jump the fence and that he had a gun, so she ran back inside,” and removed the rock, Considine confirmed.
It was originally reported at Friday’s news conference that the teacher propped the door open but ran back inside to get her phone and call 911, leaving the door propped and giving the shooter easy access to the school. The new information became available after investigators scoured through additional video footage.
Officials have not said why the teacher initially propped open the door. However, Don Flanary, the teacher’s attorney, told the San Antonio Express-News that the employee propped open the door to carry food from a car to a classroom and that she immediately closed it when she saw the commotion.
“She kicked the rock away when she went back in. She remembers pulling the door closed while telling 911 that he was shooting,” Flanary said. “She thought the door would lock because that door is always supposed to be locked.”
The latest revelation can be added to a growing list of statements that state leaders have gone back on, including DPS officials and Governor Greg Abbott. For instance, Abbott and DPS Director Steven McCraw originally said the gunman encountered a school resource officer before he entered the school. McCraw later confirmed that information was incorrect and that the gunman was unopposed. Abbott said he was “livid” that law enforcement “misled” him.
Investigators Shift Focus to Uncooperative UCSID Police Chief
McCraw said the focus of the investigation has since shifted to Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (UCISD) Police Chief Pete Arredondo, who was the commander during the shooting. McCraw said Arrendondo treated the active scene as a hostage situation and as if no children were at risk, choosing to wait for backup and equipment instead of confronting the killer.
Multiple 911 calls were made from inside the classroom, confirming students were still alive as the gunman remained barricaded in the classroom with the victims — all while 19 officers waited in the hallway outside the room.
The first call was made at 12:03 p.m. by a female student in the classroom, who said she was in room 112. The girl called back again seven minutes later and said multiple people were dead. She called again at 12:13 and said multiple people were dead, and again at 12:16 to say “eight or nine” students were still alive. At 12:19, a second student called 911 from room 111.
During a 911 call placed at 12:21, McCraw said three shots could be heard in the background. At 12:43 and 12:47, the female student who originally called 911 asked the operator to “please send help now.” At the same time, the girl said she could hear the police next door, McCraw said.
Shots could be heard in another call that came in at 12:50. A minute later, McCraw said the call got “very loud” and “sounds like the officers are moving children out of the room” could be heard. The backup and tactical team did not arrive on the scene to make entry into the classroom until 12:57 p.m. At 12:58 p.m., nearly an hour and a half after the gunman entered the school, it was confirmed over law enforcement radio that the gunman had been killed.
Responding Uvalde and UCISD officers are still being interviewed and providing statements to investigators. As of Tuesday, Considine said Arrendondo has stopped cooperating and has not responded to DPS requests for two days regarding a follow-up interview.
On Tuesday, the Combined Law Enforcement Association of Texas (CLEAT) urged its member officers to cooperate with “all government investigations.” It also endorsed a federal probe being conducted by the Justice Department.
“There has been a great deal of false and misleading information in the aftermath of this tragedy. Some of the information came from the very highest levels of government and law enforcement,” the union wrote in a statement. “Sources that Texans once saw as iron-clad and completely reliable have now been proven false.”
Shooting Ignites Discussions Surrounding School Entrances, Exits
During an interview with Fox News just hours after the shooting, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said schools should have only one entrance — a statement similar to one he made four years ago after eight students and two teachers were shot and killed at Santa Fe High School. After that shooting, Patrick said “too many entrances and too many exits” played a role, NBC News reports.
“We can do a lot of things, and Texas has done a lot of things after the Santa Fe shooting. Obviously, we have to do more. We have to harden these targets so no one can get in ever except from one entrance,” he said following the Uvalde shooting. “Maybe that would help. Maybe that would stop someone.”
Patrick added that the problem is “really bigger than that.”
On Thursday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said COVID relief money would be better spent on improving school safety, including reducing the number of doors.
Gun violence experts argue prioritizing a single point of entry de-emphasizes harm that comes from easy access to assault-style weapons. Other experts say implementing one entrance poses other safety risks.
“They’re talking about having schools with one door? What do you do if it’s a high school and there’s a chemical lab with your science class? What do you do if there’s a fire? What do you do if there’s a tornado? Or you’re out in the West and there’s an earthquake?” posed Cheryl Jonson, an associate criminal justice professor at Ohio’s Xavier University. “That won’t fly.”
A general rule of the Life Safety Code, known as NFPA 101, is that a building must have at least two exit routes to allow for prompt evacuations during an emergency. The maximum travel distance to at least one exit should not exceed 150 feet in buildings without sprinklers or 200 feet in buildings protected by a sprinkler system.
More than two exits are required, however, if the number of occupants, size of the building, or arrangement of the building will not allow occupants to evacuate safely.
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