Inside the Uvalde Response (full documentary) Video – FRONTLINE

Credit: Frontline


>> Ok, Uvalde they’’re saying that he’’s possibly in the building on the… >> Shots fired!

Get inside!

Go, go, go!

>> Shots fired inside the building!

>> There was no question about it, it’’s gunfire, we need to get in there.

>> NARRATOR: In special investigation with ProPublica and The Texas Tribune… >> In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, it was clear that something had gone terribly wrong.

>> NARRATOR: With firsthand accounts of the response… >> I honestly didn’’t think anybody was in there besides the gunman.

>> NARRATOR: The missteps… >> We couldn’t find a way to work together.

>> Chain of command is everything and it was not there.

>> NARRATOR: And the trauma… >> Understand this is a job we signed up for but none of us had nver been in this type of situation.

>> NARRATOR: Now on FRONTLINE – ““Inside the Uvalde Response.

“” (device clicking on) >> (sniffing) >> (clears throat) All right, let me just get some basic information from you.

>> It’s May 25, 2022, approximately 8:20 p.m. We’re at the Uvalde Police Department in Uvalde, Texas.

>> Yes, sir.

>> Hey, Jason, Philip Kucia, Texas Rangers.

>> Yes, sir.

>> All right, brother, this is a audio-video interview over the phone.

>> Okay.

>> I appreciate you answering my call.

>> NARRATOR: Soon after one of the deadliest school shootings in the U.S., state and federal investigators sat down with police and other law enforcement officers to ask them about their actions that day.

(microphone shifting) >> Okay.

>> All right, Mr. Brown, the reason why we’re here is that we are investigating the incident that occurred on Tuesday, the shooting at the Robb Elementary.

>> NARRATOR: Their statements were being gathered as part of a Texas Department of Public Safety’s investigation into a chaotic response that took 77 minutes before officers stormed a classroom and killed the gunman.

>> Can you kind of just lead me through the events of that day?

>> NARRATOR: More than a year and a half later, the findings of the investigation have not been made public.

State prosecutors have said they plan to present the findings to a grand jury.

>> Push record here.

Okay, I see the numbers move.

In reference to the incident that happened at Robb Elementary… >> And we just need to get your side, as to what you saw and what happened, okay?

>> NARRATOR: The Texas Tribune, ProPublica, and “Frontline” gained access to a trove of the investigative materials… >> (calling in background) >> NARRATOR: …including body cam footage, 911 calls… >> Uvalde County 911.

>> NARRATOR: …and hundreds of recorded interviews.

>> It’s my understanding that, that you were working the day of the incident?

Is that correct?

>> Yes, sir.

>> NARRATOR: These are the firsthand accounts of the officers who responded to the shooting at Robb Elementary.

>> We’ll go ahead and cut, start this interview.


Agent Valdez, um, on that, do you remember that day, the 24th?

♪ ♪ >> 21 people killed, including 19 young students.

>> The second-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

>> NARRATOR: In the immediate aftermath of the shooting in Uvalde, officers were praised for how they’d responded.

>> Law enforcement officials did what they do.

They showed amazing courage by running toward gunfire.

>> NARRATOR: But quickly, a different story began to emerge.

>> There were growing concerns today about how police responded to the deadly elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas.

He managed to sta inside for an hour… >> After the governor praised the response, and then it turned out that was almost the opposite that happened, we knew that we had to figure out what really occurred that day and ask questions about why it all went so wrong.

>> NARRATOR: Lomi Kriel is an investigative journalist in Texas.

For over a year, she and a team of reporters have been analyzing the trove of evidence they obtained and writing about the breakdowns in the response.

>> This is the first time we have ever received this amount of information for a mass shooting.

Frankly, it’s typically rare to get this for any kind of, of criminal case, but particularly for mass shootings, where that is often withheld for years, if it’s ever released publicly.

What we did was line up the more than two dozen body cams, go through it, try to identify officers, transcribe the body cameras, and then start poring through the hundreds of hours of law enforcement interviews that are on this file.

>> NARRATOR: With a possible criminal case looming, most of the officers involved in the response have declined to talk publicly– or to us– about what happened.

But we were able to review the accounts that almost 150 of them gave to investigators.

>> Law enforcement officers who responded, they spoke openly about what happened that day, including voicing their own fears, their concerns, and their regrets.

And we realized by going through it that perhaps we could piece together some of what happened that day.

>> We do have some questions, and we kind of want to clarify some things that happened yesterday.

>> Sure.

>> So let’s just start with how your day started yesterday.

>> NARRATOR: Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo was interviewed the day after the shooting.

He would later be heavily criticized for his handling of the response.

>> Y’all bear with me, because this is probably one of the first times I’m telling the entire story.

I’m trying to, to think as I’m going.

(clears throat): It wasn’t noon yet, I know that.

But it was probably not far from noon.

>> NARRATOR: At 11:28 a.m., surveillance footage from behind the school shows a truck driving into a ditch.

A teacher calls 911.

>> NARRATOR: Two witnesses approach the vehicle and the driver starts shooting.

(phone hangs up) >> NARRATOR: The dispatcher calls for police to respond.

>> I heard the word “gunshot.”

I didn’t quite catch the whole transmission.

Um, obviously, you grab the keys and start running out the door to get to your unit.

And then I heard, uh, “Robb School.”

Um, I remember… We, we have to carry two radios, because we have school or campus radio, communicate with the campuses, and then we have a police radio, um…

Unfortunately, I don’t have holsters for those.

They got in my way, I threw them.

And obviously, I’m running at this point.

>> NARRATOR: In addition to not having a radio, Chief Arredondo did not have a body camera.

This is footage from other officers arriving around the same time.

Uvalde Police Staff Sergeant Eduardo Canales was also among the first to respond.

>> So I stop, I get out, and I’m kind of, like, blindfolded, where I see, I don’t see the accident.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> I don’t see, I don’t see no accident.

However, I hear a bunch of people yelling, “He went in the building.”

>> Uh-huh.

>> Still not thinking this is an active shooter.

I’m thinking, “Okay, there was a 10-50, this guy has a gun, a Glock, maybe, I don’t know.”

>> Mm-hmm.

>> And he ran into the school trying to get away from law enforcement.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> Or trying to run, you know, on the grounds.

It still hasn’t hit me that this guy was actually there as an active shooter.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> NARRATOR: He arrived on the scene with Lieutenant Javier Martinez.

>> Lone subject.

>> NARRATOR: Arriving with Chief Arredondo was Uvalde Police Sergeant Daniel Coronado.

His body camera shows the chief running towards the school.

>> (panting) (radio beeps) (calling): Guys, be careful!

He might be in that building.

>> He might be in that building.

>> We start running, and in, and kinda towards…

I don’t know where I was at, at the time.

(radio beeps) (panting) Okay, Uvalde, they’re saying that he’s possibly in the building on the… (panting) >> (calling in distance) (gun firing in distance) >> Oh, (bleep), shots fired!

>> (on radio): 701, we need units… >> Get inside!

Go, go, go!

>> (on radio): …was shot in the head… >> Then I hear a lot of gunfire, and my heart sank because I thought, “Oh, (bleep),” like, I think he’s either engaging officers or he’s in the building.

(panting) (radio beeps) (voice trembling): Shots fired inside the building, Uvalde.

>> NARRATOR: As they get close, they hear the tail end of more than 100 rounds being fired inside the school.

>> As soon as we heard it, we went in.

>> Okay.

>> Like, there was no question about it.

We heard it, and I told, I told Javi Martinez, “It’s gun, it’s gunfire, we need to get in there.”

>> NARRATOR: Staff Sergeant Canales and other officers rush into the school on the northwest side of the building.

A surveillance camera shows the officers moving down the hallway toward classrooms 111 and 112, where they think the gunfire came from.

(woman speaking indistinctly on radio) (radio beeps) >> NARRATOR: Within seconds, Chief Arredondo, Sergeant Coronado, and other officers enter the school at the opposite end of the hall.

>> (panting) >> It’s just smoke everywhere.

>> NARRATOR: The officers recognized it’s an AR-15-style rifle.

>> And I was, like, “Okay, well, this is it”– I mean, we’re probably going to get hit, ’cause there’s, like, the way he was shooting, he was probably going to take all of us out.

I look over, and I glance and I can see the bullet holes all through the walls.

>> I remember the window.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> And I remember it was pitch black in there.

>> Okay.

>> Like, I could not see inside that, that room.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> It was pitch black.

(breathing slowly) (gun firing) >> (yelling) >> (grunts) (radio beeps) (groaning) >> NARRATOR: The gunman fires through the door of one of the classrooms, grazing Staff Sergeant Canales and Lieutenant Martinez.

>> Okay, am I bleeding?

Am I bleeding?

Am I bleeding?

I started feeling, like, blood or something.

I was, like, what, I was, like, (bleep), I was shot?

What’s going on?

>> Mm-hmm.

>> Um, so, and Javier was, like, “Hey, I feel like,” you know, so we both kind of retreat back a little bit towards where we (indistinct) entered.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> And we kind of turned around, and we were just, like…

I thought this, I didn’t know if this guy was going to come out.

>> NARRATOR: Surveillance footage shows Lieutenant Martinez going back down the hallway alone.

Then returning to where other officers are positioned.

>> The first few moments of a response is crucial, is what experts said.

This is the best moment in time to engage the shooter and rescue any victims.

So officers initially did that, and then they stumbled back when they’re grazed by bullets.

And that ends up really setting the stage for the rest of the response.

No one tried to go into the room for another 70 minutes.

>> I honestly didn’t think anybody was in there… >> Mm-hmm.

>> …besides the gunman, ’cause, I, you know, I… Not that… You know, I just honestly thought that they were in the cafeteria, ’cause it was– it seemed like all the lights were off, and it seemed like it was really quiet.

I didn’t hear any screaming, any yelling.

I literally didn’t hear anything at all.

You know, you know… And, you know, you would think there was, you know, kids would be yelling and screaming.

>> Officers after officers said that because it was so silent– they didn’t hear any screams or any indication that a child was inside that wing– that they believed it was empty, even though it was the middle of a school day on one of the last days of the semester.

>> I guess, in your mind, did you think there was kids in that room?

>> There, I knew there was a possibility, because it’s a school, but I didn’t know for sure that there was kids in that room, actually.

Again, it was really quiet, and, you know, I know, you know, I mean, I went to middle, uh, elementary school.

You know, you have your little, like, your science class, where you walk out, or P.E., or at different times of the day, and hopefully, you know, other activities.

I know it was also, like, the end of the year.

So I was, like, maybe they’re doing something else, you know, not in their classrooms, but that was, that was kind of wishful thinking.

“Oh, (bleep)…” >> Children and teachers are taught to be quiet during an active shooter threat.

That is their best defense to stay alive.

So what the children and teachers told us and investigators is that they followed that training.

So what we found was kind of this incredible contrast.

The children and the teachers followed their training, but by following their training and staying quiet, that actually meant that officers thought they weren’t there, and it took longer for them to help them.

♪ ♪ >> NARRATOR: After the burst of gunfire from rooms 111 and 112, Sergeant Coronado tries to let other first responders know what is going on.

>> Javi, you hit?

>> So I’m, like, trying to get on my radio, and there’s no radio connection inside the, the building.

So I’m, like, “(bleep).”

(radio beeps) And I know there’s more guys coming.

So I run back outside, and I start getting on the radio.

I start trying to give directions as to where, where to get everyone posted up.

(calling): Stay right there, guys!

(radio crackles) >> He should be contained in this office.

>> (panting) (radio beeps) Okay, guys, he’s on, inside this building.

We have him contained.

>> NARRATOR: An officer says the subject is contained.

Coronado announces it over the radio.

>> We believe he’s barricaded in one of the, one of the offices.

Male subject is still shooting.

>> Contained and barricaded.

What those two words convey to the other officers who are arriving at the scene is that the gunman likely is inside a room, alone, without any victims.

And so what that does is set up a response where they’re treating it like a barricaded subject rather than an active threat, where they should try getting to that room immediately.

Sergeant Coronado’s announcement is the first on the radio that we could find that calls this barricaded.

But many officers– in fact, nearly all of the ones that we went through– said not only that once they heard that announcement, they treated it as a barricaded suspect, but also when they arrived at the school, they continued treating it that way, despite mounting indicators that this was not the case.

>> So in your mind, it was a barricaded subject?

>> Yes, barricaded subject.

>> I’m asking you, in your mind, right?

>> Yes, in my mind, yes.

‘Cause we didn’t hear any more shots.

As soon as we got there, it was just complete silence.

>> NARRATOR: At seven minutes into the standoff, a teacher down the hall from the gunman calls 911.

>> NARRATOR: At the same time, Chief Arredondo calls into dispatch.

Officers at the other end of the hall hold their positions.

>> Not having a radio, I know at some point, I called 911, so that there’s a recording there.

>> NARRATOR: He hears about the teacher’s call, and that the gunman likely shot a person in one of the classrooms.

>> NARRATOR: A call goes out for more units to respond.

>> NARRATOR: But from the footage and audio we’ve reviewed, no one is told that someone has been shot.

>> Chief Arredondo, he doesn’t, according to what we have obtained in body camera footage and call logs, seem to convey that information to anyone else.

This is the first indication that now someone is injured.

>> NARRATOR: The chief was not asked about this in his interview with investigators, and he didn’t respond to our requests for comment.

A few moments before the 911 call from the teacher, on the other end of the hall from Chief Arredondo, one of the officers says that the gunman is inside his wife’s classroom.

>> NARRATOR: The officers try to confirm that classes are in session.

>> (echoing on radio) >> 19, your status.

>> NARRATOR: 15 minutes later, the officer, Ruben Ruiz, gets a call from his wife, Eva Mireles.

>> Hey, hey, hey, hey.

>> I know.

(murmuring) >> He wanted to get in there, and we’re trying to hold him back.

You know, he’s, like, “Hey, Eva’s in there.

“She’s shot, she’s shot,” like, “We need to get in there, these kids…” And we know we need to get in there, but we don’t have the right equipment.

>> You know, I didn’t even bother to throw on my rifle plates at all.

Like I said, we didn’t have any shields, no… No flash bangs, no nothing that we could have used to create a distraction, to not only… Like, not sound selfish, but make sure we go home at the end of the day, but at least more of these kids could go home at the end of the day, you know?

I understand this is the job we signed up for, yeah, we put our life on the line, but… None of us had never been in this type of situation.

None of us ever thought any of the situation would ever happen here.

>> NARRATOR: In their interviews, officers explained that one of the reasons they didn’t try to go into the class was the lethal nature of the AR-15’s ammunition, which can puncture body armor.

>> NARRATOR: The gunman had dropped a backpack full of ammunition outside the school.

>> Um, at that point, we just, we had no choice but just to wait and try to get some, something that had better coverage where we could actually stand up to him.

At that point, we just secured the scene and just kept him contained into what we thought at that point was that one classroom.

>> But we still try to do the best that we could.

We, uh… We were there.

We were trying to make sure that he didn’t go to any of the other rooms.

I’m kind of, like, numb to the situation.

Like, like, um…

I mean…

I’m not going to lie, I was (bleep) scared, bro.

It was, like, I mean… >> Had anybody gone through that door… >> Yes, sir.

>> …he would have killed whoever it was.

>> Yes, sir.

>> I mean, our, we can only carry so many, uh, ballistic vests on you.

That .223 round would have gone right through you and through that door.

>> Right.

>> I mean, he was ready.

>> Yes, sir.

>> He was ready for us.

♪ ♪ >> NARRATOR: 24 minutes into the standoff, there are now dozens of officers from multiple agencies on the scene.

Uvalde County Sheriff Deputy Ray Lara is in front of room 102, the room the teacher had called from 20 minutes earlier.

(music playing) >> NARRATOR: Music from a video is playing when they open the door.

>> No.

(kids talking) >> You’re okay, you’re okay, stay calm, okay?

>> Hey, y’all guys, stay calm, stay calm.

Hey, we need somebody to help the kids out.

>> Ready to get them out?

>> Yeah, out the window.

>> I’m gonna go help, I’m gonna go help.

>> NARRATOR: Outside, Sergeant Coronado assists with evacuating the class of fourth-graders.

>> Go, go, go, go!

>> Kids coming out, kids coming out, kids coming out!

We, we broke out the window.

He starts handing out the kids, there’s kids in there.

And we start handing them out, and I’m, like, I’m, like, “That means there’s kids everywhere.”

>> NARRATOR: Deputy Lara then checks another classroom.

>> (softly): Are you okay?

One second, stay, stay there.

>> So we start pulling them out, pulling them out, pulling them out.

And we’re breaking the, the blinds.

>> (sobbing) (gasping) >> NARRATOR: As officers waited for reinforcements from tactical units, no one established an official command post to guide the response, or designated an officer in charge.

>> (speaks indistinctly) >> Yeah.

♪ ♪ >> Dozens of officers said they didn’t know who was in charge.

That it was chaos.

What experts said an incident commander would have been able to do in this situation is coordinate that communication, kind of take larger stock of what the scene is and help develop kind of a plan.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> Did you ever hear Chief Arredondo say, “Hey, I’m the incident commander”?

>> No, sir– he was on the other side of the hallway.

He wasn’t on my side of the hallway.

>> Did anybody in that hallway say, “Hey, I’m the incident commander”?

>> On my side?

>> On your side, the other side, anybody in that hallway while you guys were in that hallway, if you remember?

>> I, I don’t remember, but I really don’t think, I don’t remember anyone ever saying that they were incident commander in the hallway.

>> NARRATOR: In the weeks after the shooting, Chief Arredondo told a state legislative committee and the Texas Tribune that he never viewed himself as the officer in charge.

He defended his actions and those of the other officers.

>> Is, does what happened seem to kind of, um, follow along the lines of how you guys trained?

>> Uh, I don’t think so, hm.

>> What do you think was the big difference?

>> All the different agencies that were trying to assist were not used to working together, so each agency, obviously, has their own S.O.Ps.

And we couldn’t find a way to work together, because each agency wanted to do things how their, how they see fit.

So I think that’s where we… >> And, um, what kind of things are you talking about?

Like, things like coordinating entry, or…?

>> Yeah, like, just coordinating it, setting up the command center.

You know, those are the things that should be done first.

>> NARRATOR: The active shooter training for responding officers varied widely and some hadn’t trained in years.

>> Do you think training was sufficient leading up to this?

>> Yeah, I’m, I’m comfortable with the training.

Uh, training is never enough.

But we, we have trained.

Uh, we don’t get to train every month.

That’d be great in a perfect world.

You can’t afford it because we have, we have, we have a school to take care of, and I can’t pull everybody out for training.

But in the summer, that’s what we do, because that’s our free time.

>> Mm-hmm.

>> NARRATOR: As the confusion was mounting Chief Arredondo had been trying to evacuate students from classroom 109.

But the door is locked.

I think this guy has it.

>> NARRATOR: Chief Arredondo learns that the Border Patrol tactical unit, BORTAC, has arrived.

>> NARRATOR: But he tells officers to first finish evacuating the wing.

In his interview with investigators, he explained his focus on vacating the classrooms.

>> Uh, my first thought is that we need to, we need to vacate.

We have him in a, we have him contained, and I know this is horrible, and I know it’s what our training tells us to do, but we have him contained.

There’s probably going to be some deceased in there, but we don’t need any more from out here.

>> NARRATOR: 37 minutes into the standoff, a police dispatcher reaches a student who had called 911 earlier.

(phone ringing out) >> (inaudible) >> NARRATOR: The police dispatcher stays on the phone with Khloie and alerts officers over the radio.

>> Shots fired– what’s the game plan?

>> Hey, what was that?

>> Hold the line right here, gentlemen.

>> NARRATOR: The commander of the Border Patrol’s tactical unit, Paul Guerrero, arrives at the north end of the hall.

>> That’s what I’m saying.

Do we have?

If there’s…

If there’s kids in there saying that there’s, Is he killing people, or is it… (men speak indistinctly) >> Did the subject… No one knows about the kids, or anything else like that?

>> No, there’s kids and teachers in there.

>> But there’s a, there’s a student… >> Yeah, there’s a student in there talking.

>> NARRATOR: The officers tell him the gunman is in a classroom down the hall and that the door is locked.

>> When I walked in and had, saw all those officers there, officers, agents of every law enforcement, they advised me that the door was locked.

As soon as it closes, it’s locked from the inside and you got to have a key or someone from the inside to open it.

>> NARRATOR: While officers are looking for keys, a Border Patrol medic arrives after hearing about Khloie’s call.

>> NARRATOR: On the south end of the hall, Chief Arredondo, Sergeant Coronado, and other officers continue to try to open room 109.

>> It’s okay, Chief.

(people talking in background) >> I already checked them all twice.

(radio running) >> Heads up, stand by.

Do you have a knife?

A knife?

>> I got a knife.

>> It can open… (people talking in background) >> Pull on it?

Pull on it.

No, hold it.

>> Hey, can you, can you go get a breaching tool?

(people talking in background) >> We have one.

>> I know, I know.

(gun firing) >> NARRATOR: There are more gunshots, the first in nearly 40 minutes.

>> Which way is he shooting?

>> NARRATOR: On the other end of the hall, with the BORTAC unit… >> NARRATOR: …officers move towards rooms 111 and 112.

>> Everybody, hold the channel!

>> NARRATOR: They stop just outside the doors.

>> Ah, (bleep), we’re taking too long.

(people talking in background) >> NARRATOR: Back at the south end, Chief Arredondo now instructs officers to break into room 109 from the windows outside.

>> Go, buddy, that way!

>> All the way!

Don’t stop!

>> Go, go, go, go!

(man speaks on radio) >> NARRATOR: The teacher was hit by bullets that went through the walls during the initial gunfire.

>> NARRATOR: 53 minutes into the standoff, Chief Arredondo confirms the building has been cleared.

>> Chief Arredondo didn’t have his radio with him.

And there’s no evidence from the information we have, the call logs or the body camera footage, that he was communicating in any way with the BORTAC commander who was on the other end of the hallway.

So with Chief Arredondo on one side and the BORTAC commander on the other side not communicating with each other, that kind of cohesive response was not happening.

>> NARRATOR: Outside the school, as more officers arrive, it is chaotic, too.

>> So he’s still in there?

>> (talking in background) >> Could y’all assist us in finding out what some of these vehicles are?

>> NARRATOR: Police vehicles are parked in the middle of the street, blocking ambulances.

>> I’m moving this one back there.

Just make sure nobody’s behind me.

He took the keys.

>> NARRATOR: Parents and community members try to get closer to the school.

>> Behind the yellow line back there.

Let’s get everybody back, get everybody back.

>> NARRATOR: Around an hour into the standoff, officers are still trying to figure out how to get into classrooms 111 and 112, which they would later learn are connected.

They remain focused on finding a key.

>> So we, we moved down.

We’re still trying to figure out how to breach.

Um, they were trying to find a master key.

‘Cause, um, we had a Halligan tool, but we didn’t have any, we didn’t have any way to get the tool into the doorjamb.

>> You got gas?

>> Yes.

>> Eventually, I couldn’t tell you time– maybe, 15, 20 minutes, maybe– um, somebody finally found the master key.

We tried it on the janitor doors that we were, there was a janitor door where we were, on either side of the hallway– we tried it on those.

It worked.

♪ ♪ We were stacked on a hallway leading to the room.

Just getting ready to, to make entry.

>> NARRATOR: At 12:50, 77 minutes after the gunman entered Robb Elementary, the officers move in on room 111.

(guns firing) >> Everyone okay?

Let’s get kids!

Kids, let’s get kids– you okay?

Hold your fire!

Hold your fire!

Watch your fire!




>> The BORTAC commander, he finally gets the right key from a school employee, puts it in the door, opens the door.

>> Hands up!

>> The gunman jumps outside of the closet, and fires at BORTAC officers at the front of the stack.

He grazes one of them in the head.

Multiple officers fire back, and hits the gunman and kills him.

>> E.M.Ts.




>> What we later learn in the state committee that examined the response determined, is that the door was likely unlocked this entire time.

is that the door was likely unlocked this entire time.

is that the door was likely unlocked this entire time.

is that the door was likely unlocked this entire time.

♪ ♪ >> NARRATOR: 19 students and two teachers were fatally shot in Uvalde, most of them likely during the initial two minutes of gunfire before police entered the school.

Two students and a teacher died soon after being rescued.

Among them, Eva Mireles, who had called her husband from her classroom early in the standoff.

Texas has now increased the amount of active shooter training for all law enforcement in the state.

Of the hundreds of officers who responded that day, several have resigned, been reassigned, or retired.

At least three have been fired, including Chief Pete Arredondo, who was terminated by the Uvalde School Board.

His lawyer called the chief a fall guy, and said that the only person responsible was the shooter himself.

>> We’re going to get scrutinized.

I’m expecting that, uh, we’re going to get scrutinized, why we didn’t go in there.

Uh, I, I know what, the firepower he had, based on what shells I saw, the holes in the wall in the room next to his.

I also know I had students that were around there that weren’t in the immediate threat, besides the ones that I know were in the immediate threat, and the preservation of life around, everything around him I felt was priority.

>> It was a horrific thing, and we lost no matter what.

Um, I, I want to learn from it.

You know, I want…

I want, I want an opportunity to have someone better than me tell me, “Hey, we could have done this or we could have done that.”

You know what I mean?

I, I, I want that.


But I’m not going to sit here and cover anything up or say, “Hey,” you know…

I’m human.

I can make mistakes, too.

>> Oh, for sure.

>> But, but again, like I said, I mean, I think everybody tried and did what we could, and for, for what it was, you know, I mean… Aside from the fact that you never thought that it could happen here in this town.

>> Right.

>> You know, that’s, that’s definitely… You know, there was a saying that we, that we had before.

Like, we’d always say, “Hey, man, it’s not a matter of if, it’s when.”

>> I know a lot of our guys are beating ourselves up about it, you know?

There’s more we could have done, or should we have just, you know, gone in and risked, you know, three of us not making it home just to, to stop this guy, and maybe more kids would’ve made it home.

>> Maybe, and I just keep thinking, like, I keep thinking in my head different scenarios.

What should I have done better and what should I have done?

And I, and I don’t, I mean… (sighs) (bleep) >> Is there anything you wish I would ask you or anything else that you haven’t already shared?

>> I just wish someone would have taken charge.

I wish someone would have… And I know this is going to be open record one day, and let it be on open record; (bleep) politics.

Someone take charge– let’s fix this.

That’s what I wanted.

♪ ♪ (phone ringing out) >> (bleep) Elementary, this is Monica.

>> NARRATOR: On the day of the shooting, shortly after leaving the scene, a Border Patrol agent called his daughter’s school in a nearby town.

A body camera he’d picked up was still recording.

>> Okay, let me send you to… Captioned by Media Access Group at WGBH

>> For more on this and other Frontline programs visit our website at

♪ ♪ Frontline’s “Inside the Uvalde Response” is available on Amazon Prime Video.


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