Cops missed chance to shoot Uvalde gunman

Daniel TrottaReuters
A memorial to the 21 people killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
Camera IconA memorial to the 21 people killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Credit: AP

A Texas police officer awaiting a supervisor's permission to fire his rifle missed a chance to take out a school shooter who went on to massacre 19 children and two teachers, a new report says.

The previously unreported detail was included in a report by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University that was commissioned by the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The response to the rampage at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde has already come in for withering criticism from senior law-enforcement figures, elected officials and the public.

Outrage has focused on the widely reported detail that as many as 19 officers waited more than an hour in a hallway outside the classrooms where children were slaughtered before a US Border Patrol-led tactical team finally made entry and killed the shooter.

Before entering the school grounds, the shooter had crashed his car and fired at a business across the street at 11.28am, prompting a law-enforcement response.

At 11.33am, before the shooter entered the school building, an Uvalde police officer at the crash scene observed the suspect carrying a rifle on school property.

The officer, 135 metres from the attacker, was well within rifle range but was concerned that if he missed his shot could have penetrated a wall and endangered children, the report said.

The officer asked his unidentified supervisor for permission to shoot, according to the report.

"However, the supervisor either did not hear or responded too late," the report said, citing the officer's statement as relayed through the authors' interview with an investigating officer.

"The officer turned to get confirmation from his supervisor and when he turned back to address the suspect, (the shooter) had entered the west hallway unabated," the report said,

The report concluded the officer would have been justified in using deadly force, citing the Texas Penal Code standard that an officer have "reasonable" belief deadly force is necessary to prevent a murder.

But "if the officer was not confident that he could both hit his target and of his backdrop if he missed, he should not have fired," the report said.

Uvalde police officials could not be reached for comment.

A separate state review is being conducted at the request of District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee of the 38th Judicial District.

The Texas Department of Public Safety referred all queries to Busbee, who did not respond to a request for comment.

The 26-page report was based on school video, video taken by others from outside the school, officer body cameras, radio logs, testimony from officers who had been at the scene, and statements from investigators, the training centre said, adding that the report should not be considered definitive or final.

The Justice Department will review the law-enforcement response in Uvalde and make its findings public, US Attorney-General Merrick Garland said last month.

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