Multiple law enforcement sources revealed to Breitbart Texas that part of the delay in stopping the barricaded elementary school shooter hinged on a deadly mix of the shooter’s defensive tactics and the lack of needed gear. Specifically, officers lacked the ballistic shield needed to enter the classroom with the barricaded shooter. Attempting to breach the door without a ballistic shield would have resulted in certain death for the officers which could have provided the shooter with the officers’ weapons and ammunition. There is also the possibility that the shooter could have taken police communications gear off of the officers’ bodies, thereby giving the shooter the ability to listen to police movement and plans.
A Border Patrol source with knowledge of the methods used by the hastily formed team of law enforcement officers to engage the suspect described the difficulty faced by the officers. The source, with decades of prior experience on the Border Patrol’s elite BORTAC team, says the situation became much more difficult to resolve once the shooter barricaded himself in the classroom.
The source, not authorized to speak to the media, told Breitbart Texas a barricaded subject is the most difficult tactical situation to resolve. In this case, the source says the shooter most likely planned the attack days or weeks in advance, perhaps prior to the purchase of two AR-15 style rifles and the ammunition he carried onto the school grounds.
According to the source, officers at the scene who had been trained in advanced tactical procedures located a level IV ballistic shield. This tool allowed them to approach the shooter without immediately being killed. A United States Marshal Service employee acquired the necessary ballistic shield that ultimately allowed the quickly formed tactical team to enter the building and reach the barricaded shooter.
Even with the shield, as reported by Breitbart Texas, one of the Border Patrol agents who rushed the shooter still suffered a grazing gunshot wound to the head. The law enforcement team did not wait for personal protective equipment before acting.
Another Border Patrol agent was also on the makeshift tactical team and fired the shots believed to have stopped the suspect, the source confirmed.
“If the subject can effectively take out an officer, he gains one more weapon, more loaded magazines, and law enforcement communications are instantly compromised allowing the suspect to know what the next plan of attack is,” the source explained.
Breitbart Texas spoke to a local law enforcement official who also says small-town police departments lack access to this equipment due to funding issues. The official says he is dismayed at the false premise that officers on the scene were afraid to enter.
The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the ongoing investigation, told Breitbart Texas one officer poised at the window of the classroom could not gain access and ultimately lost his child who was inside the room.
“Our officers had their own children in the building — one of whom was killed,” the official stated. “We wanted to end this as badly as anyone else. To think that we would stand around and let children die by choice is unconscionable for our officers right now during their time of mourning.”
The official says most law enforcement agencies in the area, including the Uvalde school police are stretched thin. Training opportunities are costly and unaffordable with the small budgets the departments have access to.
He says the community also lacks sufficient mental health outreach and treatment facilities within the city. He hopes the shooting will lead to discussion and material changes to reduce the likelihood of a repeated tragedy.
“The whole community is mourning the loss of these children and educators, and we need time to heal,” he said. “We will be closer to finding answers to how we can improve security soon when this investigation is over.”
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.