UVALDE, Texas – A seasoned, retired secret service agent weighs in on the law enforcement response in the Uvalde School Shooting delving into the nuances and complexity of the situation and pointing out what factors would have most likely influenced the timing.
Jim Napolitano is a retired US Secret Service agent and the former Police Chief of the City of Montgomery Police Department. He is now the President of Universal Safety & Security Solutions. His passion is helping to keep communities safe. KPRC 2 asked Napolitano to weigh in on the timeline of the Uvalde school shooting, after Texas DPS officials said in a news conference that there was a series of missteps in responding to the situation. Of some of the areas of concern, DPS officials said a teacher at 11:27am that day, propped the door open; it was the same door the shooter used to get in, officials said. Another issue:
“A decision was made that this was a barricaded subject. There was time to retrieve the keys and wait for a tactical team with the equipment,” DPS Director Steven McCraw said. “The benefit of hindsight where I’m sitting now… of course it, wasn’t the right decision. It was the wrong decision.”
McCraw, who was not there when the decisions were made, said that the commander made the decisions based on the idea that the subject was barricaded and made the decisions which they thought were prudent in the moment. DPS received criticism over the delay in response from when the officers got into the school around 11:35am and the tactical unit breaching the door and killing the shooter at 12:50 p.m.
Napolitano said more information is necessary to get the full context of how and why decisions were made. Ideally, Napolitano said, the active shooter training he received advises that teams try to get to the shooter right away. However, he said, active shooter responders are trained thoroughly. However, he said many tactical teams lack access to the equipment to breach doorways.
“We try to make contact immediately, as we call it contact with the shooter, so the shooter so the shooter is shooting at us instead of innocent people,” Napolitano said.
KPRC 2 asked Napolitano is a quicker response would have saved lives in this situation.
“A quick response always saves lives. Always. There’s no other way to say that but with that quick response—how would they do it because they came upon a locked door,” Napolitano said. Napolitano said there are also other factors to consider: the level of training of the officers, what weapons they had to respond and the fact that the shooter was able to get inside a classroom and inside a locked door before the officers could respond.
“They used the best thing they could which was the key. And I don’t know how long it took them to get--- from the time they said we need the key to get in that door until the key was produced,” Napolitano said.
He also added that in his experience, he worked with the local school districts to make sure that officers in Montgomery had a key that could open most of the schools’ doors in case of a situation like this. He recommends that most school districts work with their local law enforcement to do this as well.
Napolitano said at the end of the day, the officers did what they believed was best.
“They’re taking rifle rounds—at the face and the head and the arm and they stop and try to assess how they’re going to make it to this person,” Napolitano said. “They stay engaged. They try as hard as they could.”
He said there is much more to learn before truly being able to figure out what exactly went wrong. However, he said that school districts should have an armed and trained officer in every school building.