Some of the features designed to keep students safe in an active shooter situation actually worked to protect the shooter and slow the Uvalde police response to the Texas school shooting on Tuesday. The shooter managed to barricade himself behind two locked doors, forcing police to wait to find keys.
An 18-year-old shooter shot his way into classroom 111 or 112 at about 11:33 on Tuesday morning, Texas Department of Public Safety Director, Col. Steve McCraw said in a press conference on Friday morning. The classroom doors were unlocked as he entered the classrooms. At that point, the shooter barricaded himself behind the locked doors that were designed to keep an active shooter out of the classrooms.
School awards ceremonies earlier in the morning could have contributed to the classroom doors being open. Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District safety protocols call for all classroom doors to be “closed and locked at all times.” The classroom doors were open when the shooter made entry into the school.
Texas Department of Public Safety officials told Breitbart Texas on Friday that these classroom doors are designed to not be able to be kicked in by someone outside the classroom. The doors open toward the hallway and are encased in a metal frame. The windows on the door are a tall, slim rectangular shape designed to limit visibility into the classroom by an active shooter. The two classrooms have a suite-style bathroom between the two classrooms allowing the shooter to move back and forth at will between the rooms. Window blinds also prevented law enforcement from seeing into the classroom.
“Officers could not see into the classrooms to determine where the shooter was and what tactical advantages he might have,” DPS Lt. Christopher Olivarez told Breitbart. “The shooter had the tactical advantage the entire time.
Once the shooter locked himself inside the two adjoining classrooms, McCraw said the on-scene commander made the decision that the circumstances had changed from an active shooter situation to a barricaded suspect/hostage situation. McCraw added, “With the benefit of hindsight where I’m sitting now of course, it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision.”
Police utilized lulls in the shooting to move students and teachers out of other parts of the school, including a lunchtime-filled cafeteria, while multiple officers kept the shooter in place.
“At the same point in time, a decision was made that this is a barricaded subject situation,” McCraw explained. He said the incident commander believed “there was time to retrieve the keys and wait for a tactical team with the equipment to go ahead and breach the door and take on the subject at that time.”
“Both doors [classrooms 111 and 112] were locked from the inside by the subject,” the director continued. “When he went in, he locked the door. He came out one time into the hallway and went back in and locked the door.”
“At the time that the officers went in, both doors were locked,” McCraw stated. “They got a key from the janitor and used it.”
The team led by Border Patrol BORTAC agents and other law enforcement officers entered classroom 111 using the janitor’s keys and killed the shooter.
At this time, officials did not disclose the time at which officers retrieved the keys from the janitor.