Jae C. Hong/AP
Chilling audio recordings have surfaced from children and teachers trapped inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, during the mass shooting there in May. The recordings reveal a new level of details in law enforcement’s failure to respond quickly, and paint a picture of an increasingly desperate and terrifying unfolding scene with an active shooter. The story was first reported by CNN, The Texas Tribune, and ProPublica.
Reporting shows the first calls that day came in at 11:29 a.m. In a third call a few minutes later, a panicked caller yells “He’s inside the school shooting at the kids!”
At 12:10 p.m., a young girl pleads, “I’m in classroom 112. Please hurry. There is a lot of dead bodies.”
That caller was student Khloie Torres. She was 10 at the time. It would be 40 minutes from the time of her first call until law enforcement forced their way into her classroom.
Nineteen children and two teachers were killed during the shooting.
According to reports, the newly surfaced recordings include more than 20 calls, including those between officers and dispatchers, and reveal a chaotic response without clear communication. At least one time a dispatcher gave misinformation to personnel.
Since the shooting, law enforcement’s response has been widely criticized, with agencies failing to take responsibility and blaming each other. Several top officials have been fired.
Nearly 400 law enforcement officers from more than two dozen agencies were gathered at the scene that day. The recordings reflect a growing awareness from members of the group that the response was failing. More than one officer knew at an early point that the gunman was still in the classroom with students.
“We’re taking too long,” a medic says, according to reports. That was minutes before Khloie Torres started her third 911 call. She survived the shooting.
An investigation by a Texas legislative committee revealed that law enforcement’s radio signals were choppy inside the school building. Former Uvalde School Police Chief Pete Arredondo, who was fired, abandoned his radio at the fence of the school, the report stated.
Arredondo proceeded to handle the incident as one of a barricaded subject and not an active shooter, according to the report.
“With the benefit of hindsight, we now know this was a terrible, tragic mistake,” the committee wrote.
Officers said they knew the gunman was in one of the rooms, but did not know what was happening behind the closed doors because they did not hear screams or cries, despite hearing several gunshots ringing out.
Officers still did not breach the classroom after a responding officer’s wife, a fourth-grade teacher at the school, was shot, and called her husband saying she was “dying.”
Multiple responders incorrectly said Arredondo was in the classroom with the shooter, though Arredondo did not have his radio.
He acknowledged there were victims at 12:20 p.m., saying on footage obtained through another officer’s body cam that “We have victims in there. I don’t want to have any more. You know what I’m saying?”