New video shows inaction by Uvalde officers during school shooting

It’s been seven weeks since a gunman opened fire inside Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and 2 teachers. Deep questions remain on why officers waited over an hour to confront the gunman. But new surveillance footage out on Tuesday is shedding light on what happened in those critical moments. Austin American-Statesman reporter Tony Plohetski joins William Brangham to discuss.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    It's been seven weeks since a gunman opened fire inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 children and two teachers.

    As William Brangham reports, new surveillance footage out today sheds light on what happened inside the school on that tragic day.

  • And a warning:

    Some viewers may find this material disturbing.

  • William Brangham:

    Judy, it is still an open question why it took officers such a long period of time to confront the shooter inside the school.

    This four-minute video compilation was released by The Austin-American Statesman. It was compiled from over 70 minutes of footage.

    The video shows the shooter entering the school, going down a hallway, where he then shot over 100 rounds into two classrooms. Three minutes later, the first officers arrive armed and in bulletproof vests. They're shot at and pull back. Within about half-an-hour, dozens of officers with long guns and shields take up positions in the hallway.

    Later, more shots are heard from down the hall; 77 minutes in, law enforcement enters the classroom and kill the gunman.

    Investigative reporter Tony Plohetski is of The Austin-American Statesman. He acquired this never-before-seen footage.

    Tony, great to have you back on the "NewsHour."

    I wonder. This is such a striking document of what we have all been wondering, is what had actually happened in there. What stands out the most to you from this video?

  • Tony Plohetski, The Austin-American Statesman:

    I think, first of all, just the image of a man walking so casually into an elementary school in our country carrying an AR-15.

    Certainly, there has been much conversation and much reporting about the law enforcement response. But I think that this video really highlights that whatever happened that day began with that man and an AR-15 walking into that school.

    But there are other striking moments as well, including a small child who apparently is exit exiting the bathroom and peeks around the corner and sees the gunman walking down the hall and then the sound of gunfire. And he runs back into the bathroom.

    But, then again, just watching the law enforcement officers in that hallway, as yet more and more assault rifles are brought to the hallway, as more protective equipment arrives, as tear gas canisters arrive. Experts say that they had more than enough, many minutes before they went into that school, more than enough equipment and firepower to take on this gunman.

  • William Brangham:

    That delayed response has been blamed on the school district police chief.

    But this video does show that there were local, state and federal agencies all amassed in that hallway. This seems to undercut some of the argument of blaming just one agency. And do we have any better sense of why it took them so long, where that chain of command fell apart?

  • Tony Plohetski:

    Well, certainly, William, investigators and the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety has described this as a failure of law enforcement, and not singling out one particular agency.

    Keep in mind — and the video certainly substantiates this — and that is, there were law enforcement officers from the local community there in Uvalde, as well as state police and federal agents there as well. We know that, ultimately, it was a team led by the Border Patrol that breached that classroom door at 12:50. Keep in mind the gunman entered the school at 11:33 in the morning.

  • William Brangham:

    Yes, this seems to sort of again knock down the idea that the shooter was no longer a threat. We heard shots after all the police were inside there, that this was still an active shooter, and not a shooter who was barricaded and didn't need to be confronted.

  • Tony Plohetski:

    Well, and not only that, William. It's also very much worth noting as part of this that there were repeated 911 calls as well from children and adults alike asking for help, describing the extent of their injuries.

    And, yet again, so much time elapsed before we know that they ultimately breached that classroom door, really going against what experts resoundingly say is the way law enforcement should handle these types of situations.

  • William Brangham:

    And we know, lastly, that parents and members of that community have wanted to see this video and to understand what happened much better.

    We know there was a rally in town on Sunday night where many people expressed a real sense of distrust about the police. This seems like this is only going to confound that concern.

  • Tony Plohetski:

    Certainly, there have been many calls for increased transparency among the families of the victims of what happened that terrible day.

    And, frankly, that helped drive our decision to publish and air this video, as we have done today.

  • William Brangham:

    Tony Plohetski of The Austin-America Statesman, again, thank you so much for your superb reporting.

  • Tony Plohetski:

    Thank you.

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