Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Monday, June 10, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Uvalde mayor blasts media for publishing school shooting video

The leaked footage shows police positioned in a hallway at the school for over an hour before some entered a classroom and fatally shot the gunman.

UVALDE, Texas (CN) — The mayor of Uvalde, Texas, called two news outlets “chickenshit” Tuesday night at a City Council meeting because they published surveillance footage of police gathered in a school hallway while a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers in adjoining classrooms.

The footage from a wall-mounted camera at Robb Elementary School — published Tuesday afternoon by the Austin American-Statesman and Austin ABC affiliate KVUE — depicts Salvador Ramos casually walking down a hallway with an assault rifle at 11:33 a.m. on May 24.

He sprays gunfire into a classroom door and then fires more rounds as he enters the room.

Three minutes later, six officers in protective vests from the Uvalde Police Department and Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Department arrive. Several hurry down the hallway to the classroom, but fall back when Ramos fires at them through the door.

The footage shows more and more officers arriving, some with shields and assault rifles of their own, over the next hour. They intermittently aim their weapons down the hallway like they were expecting Ramos, 18, to come out of the classroom.

Ramos’ gunfire can be heard as police wait in the hallway. It was revealed one of the students had called 911 five times and told the operator, “Please send the police now.”

Not until 12:50 p.m., 77 minutes after Ramos walked into the school through an unlocked door, did an agent from a Border Patrol tactical unit fatally shoot him in one of the classrooms where he carried out the massacre.  

Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw called the law enforcement response “an abject failure” and said it had set the profession “back a decade” in testimony on June 21 before a Texas Senate Committee.

Though state police from his agency were also at the scene and did not enter the classrooms to confront Ramos, McCraw blamed the incident commander, Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District police Chief Pete Arredondo, who officials say mistakenly held his officers back because he believed Ramos had barricaded himself in the rooms.

Days before the shooting, Arredondo — who has been placed on administrative leave — was elected to the City Council of Uvalde, a town of around 16,000 residents located 80 miles west of San Antonio.

Arredondo announced his resignation July 1 and the City Council on Tuesday voted to formally accept him stepping down.

State Representative Dustin Burrows, a Lubbock Republican, is chair of a Texas House committee investigating the shooting. Burrows said in a statement early Tuesday it will convene in Uvalde at 2 p.m. Sunday and meet with community members, let them see the hallway video and discuss the committee’s preliminary report with them.

Burrows said the committee would release the video and its report to the public shortly after meeting with Uvalde residents. But just hours later, KVUE and the Statesman released the leaked hallway footage.

KVUE news anchors said Tuesday both its staffers and their colleagues at a sister ABC station in San Antonio had spoken to some of the victims’ families, and all but one family was in support of releasing the video.

They also noted that on Monday night, Governor Greg Abbott had said in an interview with the station he wanted it released, both the video and audio.

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said the media outlets were “chickenshit” for airing the footage before the families got to see it, San Antonio’s CBS affiliate reported.

“What about the cops? Are they chicken shit?” someone in the crowd said. “Y’all are attacking the media. Y’all should attack the cops who did nothing.”

Follow @cam_langford
Categories / Media, Personal Injury, Politics, Regional

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.