Uvalde report dismisses account police had chance to take out gunman before he entered school

The gunman police allegedly saw turned out to be a school coach

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The joint committee of the Texas Legislature investigating the May 24 Uvalde school shooting dismissed a report that claimed police had the opportunity to shoot the gunman before he entered Robb Elementary School. 

A July 6 report from the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas University claimed that a Uvalde police officer on scene observed the suspect carrying a rifle outside the school. 

Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde, questioning Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw.

Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde, questioning Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw. (Fox New Digital)

According to the report, the officer, armed with a rifle, asked his supervisor for permission to shoot the suspect. 

"However, the supervisor either did not hear or responded too late," according to the report. "The officer turned to get confirmation from his supervisor and when he turned back to address the suspect, he had entered the west hallway unabated." 

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A "reasonable officer would conclude in this case, based upon the totality of the circumstances, that use of deadly force was warranted," and had the situation "worked out differently," the officer could have "stopped the tragedy that followed," the report added. 

But a report released Sunday by the committee investigating the mass shooting dismissed that account, saying the officer had seen a school coach, not the suspected gunman. 

A banner hangs at a memorial outside Robb Elementary School, the site of a May mass shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers.

A banner hangs at a memorial outside Robb Elementary School, the site of a May mass shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers. (AP/Eric Gay)

"The officers testified to the Committee that it turned out the person they had seen dressed in black was not the attacker, but instead it was Robb Elementary Coach Abraham Gonzales," Sunday’s report said. "Coach Gonzales had been on his way to the parking lot to leave the school after his lunch duty when he heard a gunshot and then [another coach’s] report about the attacker over the radio. He told the children around him to run away." 

After the initial report was released, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin released a statement saying the officer’s account of seeing the gunman outside the school was false. 

"No Uvalde police officers had any opportunity to take a shot at the gunman," McLaughlin said. "A Uvalde Police Department officer saw someone outside but was unsure of who he saw and observed children in the area as well. Ultimately, it was a coach with children on the playground, not the shooter."

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Sunday’s nearly 80-page report revealed failures at all levels of law enforcement and identified 91 state troopers at the scene – more than all Uvalde officers combined. It also amounted to a public shift by the Texas Department of Public Safety, which until now has largely criticized local authorities for failing to confront the gunman sooner. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.