'It was a coach, not the shooter:' Uvalde mayor disputes report that police could've shot gunman

A Uvalde officer had asked a supervisor for permission to shoot Salvador Ramos before he entered the school, recent report says.

ByUriel J. Garcia, The Texas Tribune
Friday, July 8, 2022
Uvalde mayor disputes report police missed chance to shoot gunman
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Mayor Don McLaughlin said "no Uvalde police officers had any opportunity to take a shot at the gunman," following a recent report that says otherwise.

UVALDE, Texas -- Uvalde's mayor on Friday denied a recent report that said a city police officer had an opportunity to shoot the 18-year-old gunman who killed 19 children and two teachers before he entered Robb Elementary School last month.

In a written statement, Mayor Don McLaughlin said that no Uvalde police officer saw the shooter before he entered the school and "no Uvalde police officers had any opportunity to take a shot at the gunman."

"A Uvalde Police Department officer saw someone outside but was unsure of who he saw and observed children in the area as well," McLaughlin said. "Ultimately, it was a coach with children on the playground, not the shooter."

SEE RELATED STORY: Uvalde officer saw gunman before he entered school and asked for permission to shoot him, report says

McLaughlin's comments come two days after the release of a report analyzing the law enforcement response to the shooting. The report by staff at the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University in San Marcos said a Uvalde police officer had the gunman in his crosshairs and asked a supervisor for permission to shoot - but the supervisor did not hear the request or responded too late.

SEE RELATED STORY: Police didn't try to open doors to Uvalde school classrooms with shooter inside: Source

ALERRT, created in 2002 to address the need for active shooter response training for first responders, based its report on an hourlong briefing on June 1 by an "investigating officer with knowledge of the event and investigative details," the report said.

The report said that ALERRT staff also reviewed surveillance footage from the school, Google Maps and a brief cellphone video.

The report does not identify which agency the investigator works for. The report does say that the Texas Department of Public Safety reached out to ALERRT soon after the attack "to assess the law enforcement response."

DPS and ALERRT didn't immediately respond to an email from The Texas Tribune seeking comment.

McLaughlin's statement is the latest in an ongoing public feud between the city and DPS. Last month, DPS Director Steve McCraw told a state Senate committee that the Uvalde police response to the shooting was an "abject failure" and blamed the indecisiveness of the on-scene commander, who "decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children."

Law enforcement officers who responded to the shooting - particularly Uvalde school district Police Chief Pete Arredondo, who recently resigned as a city council member - have faced intense criticism for waiting more than an hour before entering the classrooms and killing the gunman.

SEE ALSO: 'We need to go in': Officers in Uvalde were ready with guns, shields, tools - but no clear orders

McLaughlin, meanwhile, has accused state authorities of selectively releasing information to scapegoat local law enforcement and intentionally leaving out details about the state's response to the massacre.

"McCraw has continued to, whether you want to call it, lie, leak ... mislead or misstate information in order to distance his own troopers and rangers from the response," McLaughlin said last month after McCraw's testimony.

The mayor said Friday that dozens of DPS troopers were at the school by the time the gunman entered the classroom where the students and teachers were killed.

"I've said it once and will say it again, the premature release of piecemeal information or anything related to the May 24 Department of Public Safety (DPS)/Texas Rangers investigation is a disservice to families who lost children or parents because the true facts need to come out once all investigations/reviews, which the City expects will be thorough and fair, are complete," the mayor's office said. "I firmly believe it is imperative the families are provided with complete, unbiased, and comprehensive information about this incident."

SEE RELATED STORY: Uvalde School Police Chief Pete Arredondo resigns from city council, ABC News confirms

DPS has also said the Texas Rangers are conducting an investigation into the shooting. The FBI and a legislative committee are also conducting their own investigations.

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