A police commander on site during May’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, delayed taking action for 30 minutes after hearing that children were trapped inside a classroom with the gunman.
Audio obtained by CNN and released on Monday tracks a call between an emergency dispatcher and the city’s acting police chief Mariano Pargas, according to the Associated Press news agency.
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A 10-year-old girl had called 911 from an adjoining room, pleading for help. A dispatcher then transmitted the information she provided to Pargas.
“So how many are still alive?” Pargas asks in the recording. “Eight to nine are still alive,” the dispatcher responds, referring to the estimate provided by the 10-year-old. “She’s not too sure.”
Pargas ends the call with an “OK, OK, thanks.” It would take an additional 30 minutes before law enforcement breached the room.
The recording underscores the lengthy delays that occurred as one of the deadliest school shootings in US history unfolded inside Robb Elementary School. Nineteen children and two teachers were killed.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers gathered at the school, some within minutes of the attacker entering the building. But 70 minutes passed before the gunman was confronted and killed, even though officials knew children were still in danger.
The response became the subject of outrage, as families and community members demanded accountability.
Pargas was placed on administrative leave in July after a scathing report found “systemic” failures in the law enforcement response. The school district’s police chief Pete Arredondo was fired.
Body-camera footage taken at 12:11pm shows officers in the hallway outside the classroom receiving information that a Border Patrol tactical team was 30 minutes away.
A dispatcher can be heard saying that a child is calling from within the classroom, describing a “room full of victims”. That information is relayed to Pargas, who makes no audible comment on the footage.
According to CNN, Pargas spoke with a dispatcher at 12:16pm. It was not until 12:50pm that officers entered the room and killed the gunman.