Throughout the early stages of the police response, the body camera footage shows that many officers weren’t sure if there were still people in the classrooms with the gunman.
About 25 minutes after the shooter entered the school, an officer asked if any students or school employees had been injured. Uvalde Police Sgt. Daniel Coronado replied, “No, we don’t know anything about that.” This was after Ruiz had already spoken to his wife and told officers she was inside the classrooms and injured.
In Uvalde Police Officer Justin Mendoza’s body camera footage, 37 minutes after police first arrived, a 911 dispatcher is heard saying a student called from inside the classroom and said it was "full of victims.”
Uvalde schools police Chief Pete Arredondo, who was assumed to be the incident commander during the shooting and was placed on administrative leave a month ago, learned that officers had located the correct key to open the locked classroom door but heeded caution before entering.
“If y’all are ready to do it, you do it, but someone should distract them from that other window, brother,” Arredondo is heard saying about an hour and eleven minutes after police first entered the school.
“We need flash-bangs,” Coronado told Arredondo while he was on the phone, implying officers should obtain nonlethal stun grenades before entering.
These last-minute delays that were suggested by Coronado and Arredondo seem to go against best practices when dealing with an active shooter who is still a danger to civilians. Instead of following the active shooter doctrine developed after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, which dictates that officers immediately confront active shooters, police at Robb Elementary retreated after coming under fire and then waited for backup.
Arredondo has borne a large share of the criticism for failing to take over command of the scene and appearing to treat the situation as a barricaded shooter situation instead of an active shooter with hostages. But the Texas House committee report also noted that neither state police nor federal agents, who vastly outnumbered Uvalde school and city police (376 officers from different law enforcement agencies responded to the shooting), asked Arredondo if he could cede command authority.