Robb Elementary School’s classroom doors – which had metal frames and opened outward – presented an additional obstacle for law enforcement as they responded to the massacre that killed 19 children and two teachers.
The door design is designed to prevent an attacker from entering from the outside. But because 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos was already inside the Uvalde school on May 24, the design failed and officers couldn’t get inside immediately and prevent further carnage, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.
“An outward-opening door is the worst-case scenario when trying to break in,” said Sgt. Scott Banes of the Fort Worth Police Department, who spent 12 years on a Special Response Team that handles active shooters and related calls trained, the newspaper said.
Breaking down such doors can be particularly dangerous if there is a gunman on the other side, especially since authorities were reportedly not initially armed with tactical shields. Without the shields, anyone opening the door would be vulnerable to gunfire, the newspaper reported.
Another problem was that the tactical teams were equipped with heavy, cylinder-shaped battering ram means well suited for prying the deadbolt locks on dorm doors – however, there was a problem with the classroom doors, according to a recent and a former US Customs and border guards who were briefed on the shooting.
Marcus “Sandy” Wall, a retired member of Houston’s SWAT team, told the outlet that breaching the steel-framed outward-opening doors is not efficient because first responders have to pry them open rather than ram them.
The task can vary in difficulty depending on the hardware and whether the frame is attached to cleats, Wall said.
But Curtis S. Lavarello, executive director of the School Safety Advocacy Council, told the Washington Post that authorities have a way to quickly open the safe doors — which have been added to classrooms across the country.
He insisted law enforcement should practice these breaches during security drills – but it’s unclear if that happened in Uvalde.
“For someone with more than 25 years of law enforcement experience, it’s amazing you don’t enter this room for more than an hour,” Lavarello told the newspaper. “The door that opens outward is not a valid excuse for not entering this classroom. To say ‘we can’t get a key’ is stupid.”
Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo told the Texas Tribune in an interview that it was impossible to kick in the steel post on the classroom door where Ramos opened fire.
Arredondo – who spent more than an hour in the school’s hallway – told the Tribune that he requested tactical gear, a sniper and keys to enter the classroom.
He also reported trying dozens of keys that didn’t work.
“Every time I tried a key, I just prayed,” Arredondo told the newspaper.
An hour and 17 minutes into the mass shooting, officers finally managed to unlock the door and shoot Ramos, killing him.
Arredondo also told the newspaper he did not have a radio with him during his response to the shooting – because he believed carrying the communications equipment would slow him down.
He also said he knew the radios in some school buildings were not working.
But the decision meant Arredondo was out of radio contact with hundreds of law enforcement officers from other agencies who were responding to the mass shooting.
Arredondo has insisted he did not stop officers from entering the building. He also said he did not consider himself an incident commander and thought another officer had taken control of organizing the various police departments that responded.
Arredondo’s account of the police response is not supported by the Texas Department of Public Safety, which is investigating the shooting and how it was handled by law enforcement.
According to the DPS, Arredondo incorrectly treated the shooting as a barricaded suspicious incident with law enforcement negotiating with the shooter.
The case should have instead been treated as an active shooter situation where, according to the DPS, the top priority for officers is to stop the shooting by killing the shooter or taking him into custody.
Texas State Senator Roland Gutierrez on Saturday took questions about state agencies blaming Arredondo — and said the police officer’s testimonies “contrast directly with what DPS said.”
“So now you have these two competing narratives, neither of which makes sense. DPS directly implied they leaked that this man didn’t have a radio,” Gutierrez said in a CNN interview, cited by The Hill.
“[Arredondo] admits he has no radio. Then how is he the commander of operations if he can’t relay orders to others?”
https://nypost.com/2022/06/11/classroom-doors-challenged-uvalde-shooting-response-report/ Classroom doors prompted Uvalde to shoot Response: report