Security camera footage released Tuesday from inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, shows law enforcement waiting for more than an hour outside the fourth grade classrooms where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers.
The Austin American-Statesman first published an abridged four-minute video chronicling the slow police response to the shooting as more than a dozen officers gathered arms and shields and collected in the hallway.
Later, the outlet released the full 77-minute video recording, which spans the time between the shooter’s arrival at the school and the killing of the shooter.
As many as 13 law enforcement officers were present in the hallway on tape during much of the 77 minutes, during which the shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was inside the fourth grade classrooms.
The footage is edited to obscure the face of a child who peers around the corner as Ramos begins firing into the classroom and to mute the sound of the children’s screams during the shooting.
Forty-five minutes after law enforcement’s arrival, another burst of shots is heard inside the classroom, and officers rush forward.
The recording picks up one individual saying, “They’re making entry,” but law enforcement would not enter the classrooms for another half hour, according to American-Statesman reporting.
Officers, some in full camouflage gear and heavily armed, talk to each other and pace the hallway, with some seen typing on phones. U.S. Border Patrol was also on the scene.
The video released by the American-Statesman includes body camera footage from law enforcement and surveillance cameras from outside the school but does not show images of children.
The decision to release the footage was controversial. After the chairman of a Texas House panel investigating the mass shooting announced Monday that law enforcement and local officials would release the video, the Texas Department of Public Safety quickly denied that an agreement had been reached to release the footage.
The chairman, state Rep. Dustin Burrows (R), then said he’d release the footage himself, “regardless of any agreement.”
Burrows and the rest of the Texas House panel lawmakers are investigating whether police waited too long before entering the classroom and making a rescue attempt as well as other instances of police misconduct on the day of the shooting.
The American-Statesman released a statement regarding the decision to publish the footage, which it called “tragic to listen to and watch,” explaining its editorial choices, including the call to remove the “too graphic” sound of children reacting as the gunman entered the classroom.
Against newsroom guidelines that mass shooters should not be glorified in the press, the American-Statesman also chose not to obscure the gunman’s face “to chisel away at any conspiracy that we are hiding something,” the statement read.
The paper also said that “changing stories, heroic-sounding narratives proven to be false and a delay or in most cases rejection of media requests for public information by law enforcement leaders, public officials and elected leaders” have complicated the reporting process and added that the state’s attorney general has yet to make decisions on several pending media requests.