The Uvalde Timeline

Law enforcement personnel stand outside Robb Elementary School following a shooting, Tuesday, May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills) via CNN

Timelines are important. They establish who did what, when, and we can interpret what was known when, and look for the places that were exploited to commit the act or what allowed an event to transpire. This is true for earthquakes, hurricane damage, fires, gas leaks, and violent events.

No, we don’t need to talk about the absurdity of trying to ban and sweep up all assault weapons or magazines. No 9mm handguns don’t need banning either (though that would make 30 Super Carry way more popular) and the vagaries of ‘Red Flag’ laws are still highly problematic from both an accuracy standpoint and a civil rights standpoint.

From OurWarsToday on IG (in Text),

Border Patrol agent who finally went in and reportedly killed the shooter after being frustrated with lack of action by police after 80 minutes of failing to stop the massacre. He took a bullet in the hat and scalp which grazed him.

Reportedly Border Patrol agents that stormed the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas to take down the shooter did so after becoming frustrated by local police telling them to wait. A new timeline from DPS Director McCraw shows that the shooter was actually in the school for 80 minutes before law enforcement stopped his attack.

The timeline of events are going to be the keystone piece in putting together effective changes in security and deterrents against killings. There were failings, we need to be honest about that. We need to address the failings that allowed the shooter the access.

We can’t screen for evil, we can’t filter out crazy, and we can’t read minds. So we have to focus on the things we can influence. This timeline may be further updated as the authorities in charge of investigating the incident put it all together

The school’s onsite building security policy failed when the exterior door was left propped open. It has been argued that the officers failed in their duties to their community, maybe not in a legal sense since the Supreme Court ruled they have no duty to protect, but certainly in the moral sense that officers are present to protect and serve their community. I do not expect an officer to act in a suicidally rash manner, but rapid logical decisiveness, yes, I do expect that.

11:28 am: The shooter crashes a pickup truck into a ditch behind the school. He is carrying a semi-automatic rifle. He opens fire on two people outside a nearby business who escaped uninjured.

I am not certain what time the shooter’s grandmother called 911, there are indications from the family that he and his grandmother fought over his purchase of the two rifles. This begins the first point a location could be communicated about the shooter after leaving his grandmother’s residence.

11:30: First 911 call about a crash and shots fired outside the school is made.

Location communicated, response begins.

11:33: Shooter enters the school through a propped-open door, enters two connected fourth-grade classrooms — which two entrances that lock from the inside — and begins firing.

This is the critical failure point.

We can be critical of the actions of the Uvalde officers and what they did inside and outside the building all we would like to, I want to do so fairly, but this event is the critical failure point. Not the cops, a teacher. Unlocked access into the school building. The shooter will now be able to use the locking designs against responders, which he did.

Now the teacher, who I assume could not feel more horried of their contribution to the situation, did not kill those children or co-workers. To suggest so is cruel and unnecessary, it does nothing to help. But they did provide the means of entry, the path of least resistance into the building.

I do not believe the school was a deliberate target, I could be wrong but it does not appear that this was planned out in any manner prior to the triggering event with his grandmother. Robb Elementary was the target of opportunity once the shooter made the decision. The locked exterior door would have slowed the shooter and officers were only 120 seconds behind him.

That blocked pathway could have made all the difference in the world.

11:35: At least three Uvalde Police Officers enter the same door as the shooter and go directly to one of the doors to one of the classrooms. Two are injured by gunshots from the shooter. Those three officers were followed by three additional Uvalde police officers and a county deputy sheriff.

Here the shooter begins to use the school’s geometry against responding officers. Officers, contrary to many reports and early anger, did not wait outside the school, they pushed and were engaged by the shooter. Officers outside the school were tasked with preventing parents and bystanders from becoming additional casualties. This is a crucial but thankless task, don’t allow people to add to the injured list by rushing in and going down themselves.

At this point however, the shooter has shut the classroom doors and the officers did not possess the key to pursue. This is a security concern that needs addressing. If fire departments have key access to buildings around the community to help with fire suppression and medical incidents a similar system can be implemented for critical buildings like schools where a master key can be safely stored. That key access would have given the officers the option to breach quickly behind the shooter.

That option would have carried several other risks, including getting shot as the officers are moving through the doorway. Since that ended up happening once BORTAC got on seen and pushed the breach with keys, early responder access is a security measure we must look at implementing.

12:03: At least 19 officers have gathered in a hallway outside the classrooms.

12:03: The first 911 call is made from inside one of the classrooms by a person identified by McCraw as a female “student/child.”

12:10: The person makes another call and advised the operator that multiple people were dead.

12:13 – 12:16: The student makes two more calls and says there are eight to nine student alive inside the classroom she was in.

12:19: Another 911 call is made from a second unidentified person, “who hung up when another student told her to hang up,” McCraw said.

12:43 and 12:47: The initial caller makes two more calls and asks the operator to “please send the police now,” according to McCraw.

12:51 pm: Border Patrol tactical agents unlock one of the doors with a key received from a school janitor, breach the room, kill the suspect and begin escorting children out.

The time to stop the shooter was outside at 11:33, by having the door closed as I had (wrongly, it turns out) assumed was a well enforced standard practice nationwide at schools. You might not be able to stop a shooter cold if the exterior of the door can be broken in some way to get to it open, shoot out the glass for example as appears to have happened at the interior classroom door, but unhindered access is what allowed this to develop in the manner it did.

From reports I’ve seen the shooter rushed the teachers as they were trying to lock him out and one of them died in the attempt at the classroom.

Officers needed and did not have the means to expediatantly follow the shooter, they could not keep pressure on him and force him to react. Once he was shut into the classroom pressure eased and he was able to act as he choose within that space, killing 21 people.

Access didn’t happened until BORTAC showed up, apparently defying the orders of the onsite Uvalde OIC, and moved to kill the shooter.

A student reported that the shooter killed another student who cried out in response to an officer on the outside of the school shouting if anyone needed help.

But the short of all of this is that people failed. People failed to keep certain security measures in place in the moment when they were needed. Casualties happened that should have had more steps between them and the line of fire. People died because the safety layers weren’t there to give Law Enforcement the time they needed and then they were playing catch up.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.