According to a report from the Texas Tribune on March 20, 2023, officers were allegedly hesitant to confront a lone attacker at Uvalde school, who was reportedly armed with an AR-15 rifle. Several officers, who were armed with similar weapons, abandoned their protocol for dealing with mass shooters due to fear, as they heard other officers on the radio saying that the attacker had an AR-15.
Uvalde police department Sgt. Donald Page told investigators, “You knew that it was definitely an AR. There was no way of going in. … We had no choice but to wait and try to get something that had better coverage where we could actually stand up to him.”
The Tribune also points to a quote from former Uvalde police chief Pete Arredondo: “We’re gonna get scrutinized (for) why we didn’t go in there. I know the firepower he had, based on what shells I saw, the holes in the wall in the room next to his. … The preservation of life, everything around (the gunman), was a priority.”
However, the Tribune points out that none of the officers quoted in the report actually spoke to them. The quotes from Sergeant Page and former chief Arredondo were drawn from investigative notes, and the means of gathering quotes from the other officers were not explained. The report mentions that one group of quotes was drawn from a recording on a state trooper’s body camera.
After the Columbine massacre, law enforcement officials adopted a new protocol for dealing with mass shooters, which involves making entry and taking out the shooter immediately. The old tactic of setting up perimeters and waiting for the suspect to surrender is no longer effective, as it became evident that time was not on law enforcement’s side.
The report also suggests that fear may have been a factor in the officers’ reluctance to confront the attacker, despite being armed with similar weapons. The use of AR-15 rifles by law enforcement officers has been a controversial issue, with some arguing that it creates a sense of fear and intimidation in the public.