‘They could have been shot, killed’: Texas police official justifies police inaction in Uvalde

(Video: CNN)

A Texas Department of Public Safety official said Thursday that the police were justified in waiting for backup instead of storming the classroom where school mass shooter Salvador Ramos had barricaded himself inside, because had they gone in after him without backup, “they could have been shot, they could have been killed.”

Speaking on CNN, DPS Lt. Chris Olivarez argued that had this occurred, Ramos would have been free to roam the rest of the school and kill more people.

“In the active shooter situation, you want to stop the killing, you want to preserve life. But also, one thing that, of course, the American people need to understand is that officers are making entry into this building. They do not know where the gunman is. They are hearing gunshots. They are receiving gunshots,” he said.

At that point, if they proceeded any further not knowing where the suspect was at, they could have been shot, they could have been killed, and at that point that gunman would have had an opportunity to kill other people inside that school.

Instead, Ramos remained inside the classroom effectively unchallenged as he killed everybody inside it.

Olivarez’s justification triggered massive backlash on social media:

Earlier during the same segment, Olivarez admitted that officers had arrived at the school “within minutes” but again defended their decision to abstain from storming the classroom, arguing in part that they’d been busy evacuating everybody else from the building as they contained Ramos inside the room.

“Officers were in that building within minutes. They maintained their presence inside that school. … Also in addition to that, other officers arrived and they were able to evacuate other children as well and teachers. We have to understand, too, it was a full school. I mean, they were trying to evacuate as many people as possible because in an active shooter situation your focus is to stop the killing and preserve life,” he said.

“At that point, they had the suspect contained inside the classroom. If those officers weren’t there, if they didn’t maintain their presence, there is a good chance that gunman could have made it to other classrooms and commit more killings.”

Texas authorities are facing heavy backlash over both their questionable decision-making and also their lack of transparency and changing stories.

Following the shooting, Texas authorities gave the impression that one of their officers had engaged Ramos right before he entered the school but backed off after sustaining a gunshot wound.

Yet on Thursday, their story suddenly changed, and they said that no officer had been present and that Ramos had simply strolled into the school unchallenged via an unlocked back door.

“We know for a fact that there was not a school resource officer on site assigned to the school at that particular time. What we do know is that there was a school resource officer who responded to the scene,” Olivarez said during an appearance late Thursday on “Fox News at Night.”

“Initially, when this first took place … the initial reports that we received was that the school resource officer encountered the gunman and there was an exchange of gunfire. We’ve been able to confirm that was not the case. There was no encounter whatsoever with that initial resource officer and the gunman.”

Olivarez also offered an explanation for a viral video showing police officers standing outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, barring parents from going inside.

As the video went video, it prompted accusations from parents that the police had done “nothing” as their children were slaughtered.

“In an active situation like that, we have multiple officers arriving. There was officers inside the school. There was officers on the opposite side of the school, breaking windows and trying to evacuate teachers,” Olivarez said.

“And the officers you see on the video … those were officers who were setting up a perimeter, trying to keep people from going into that school, because again, it’s still an active situation. We don’t know where exactly that gunman is, if he’s alive and what he’s doing.”

Listen:

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