The elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where a teenager slaughtered 19 students and two teachers last month, will be demolished, the mayor of the city announced Tuesday.
Several hours before the mayor's remarks, a top Texas official described law enforcement's response to the shooting at Robb Elementary School as "an abject failure" in which a commander prioritized the safety of cops over that of children.
At a council meeting, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin stated, "You can never ask a student or teacher to return to that school."
During a separate Texas state Senate hearing into the May 24 shooting, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw stated that the onsite commander made "terrible decisions" and that officers at the scene lacked adequate training, costing valuable time that could have been used to save lives.
McCraw stated, "There is compelling evidence that law enforcement's response to the attack at Robb Elementary School was an abject failure and contrary to everything we've learned."
After the shooter entered Robb Elementary School and began firing, several parents, relatives, and staff members expressed outrage at the police's response.
The search for a key to the classroom where the incident took place was one of the delays mentioned by McCraw. He observed that the door was unlocked and that there was no indication that any officers had attempted to secure it while others looked for a key.
McCraw stated there is no way for the subject to lock the door from the inside.
Days after the incident, the Texas DPS reported that as many as 19 police waited outside classrooms 111 and 112 for more than an hour before a US Border Patrol-led tactical squad gained access. Yesterday at the hearing, McCraw reaffirmed this.
"The officers had firearms, but the youngsters did not. The officers have body armor, while the children do not. The cops had training, whereas the suspect had any. According to the DPS director, the children and teachers in Room 111 waited to be rescued for one hour, fourteen minutes, and eight seconds.
"Three minutes after the subject entered the west building, there were enough armed officers equipped with body armor to isolate, distract, and neutralize the subject," McCraw stated.
"The only thing preventing a hallway of dedicated officers from entering Rooms 111 and 112 was the decision of the on-scene commander to prioritize the safety of officers over the safety of children," the director stated during the hearing.
McCraw reported that the site commander, Uvalde schools police chief Pete Arredondo, "waited for radio and guns, shields, and SWAT. Finally, he awaited a key that was never required. Yesterday, Arredondo did not address any of the two hearings.
Arredondo stated earlier this month that he never considered himself incident commander at the shooting scene and did not instruct police to refrain from invading the building.
McLaughlin accused McCraw of shifting blame from state police enforcement at last night's city council meeting.
"In each and every briefing, he omits the number of his own officers and rangers present that day," the mayor added. "Colonel McCraw has an agenda, and it is not to provide the families of this community with a complete account of what transpired and factual answers."
McLaughlin declared that state officials were abandoning the city and its inhabitants in the dark and added, "The gloves are off."
Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, said in a statement that he wants the victims' families and the public to have immediate access to all shooting-related information.
Yesterday evening, the Uvalde City Council denied Arredondo's request for a leave of absence as a council member by a vote of unanimous consent.
Arredondo was elected to the council shortly before the incident, although he missed the two subsequent council meetings. If he skips three consecutive council meetings, denying him a leave of absence could result in his resignation.
Arredondo told the Texas Tribune that he left his two radios outside the school because he needed both hands for his weapons. He claimed he called for tactical equipment, a sniper, and keys to enter the building but waited forty minutes before approaching the doors to avoid drawing gunfire.
During an emotional school board meeting on Monday, ABC News reported that community members and parents of the victims pushed Arredondo to quit.