Uvalde sheriff reportedly withheld vital information during school shooting
An investigative piece by CNN has claimed that Uvalde County Sheriff Ruben Nolasco first went to a related and already under control crime scene before heading to the school, where he apparently learned the identity of the gunman but did not tell his other officers.
He also did not take charge once he arrived at the elementary school and failed to properly address a 911 call that was made from a child within the classroom where the gunman held students and staff hostage with an AR-15 rifle, and murdered 19 students and two adults.
Nolasco has said that he was on his way to Robb Elementary on May 24 when he was stopped while driving by a resident concerning a woman who had been shot.
He diverted to that crime scene instead, finding a woman at her home with a gunshot wound to her face. Nolasco is heard on body cam audio asking the woman, "Who did this to you?" to which she responds her grandson, and gives the officer his name.
The sheriff stayed with the victim as paramedics arrived, as the school shooting began only a half mile away. He made his way to the school right after, arriving 16 minutes after the gunman entered the building.
It's unclear if Nolasco knew at the time that school shooter and the woman's grandson were the same person, but during questioning afterwards by Texas Rangers, he said "it's not going to take a rocket scientist" to make the connection.
Officers attempting to negotiate with the shooter received his name nearly an hour after Nolasco found the information out.
Sheriff Ruben Nolasco failed to follow protocol in Uvalde school shooting
About 376 officers showed up at the school to respond to the shooting, and, upon his arrival, Nolasco was one of the highest ranked among them. Despite this, he did not take command, and remained outside the building as the incident carried out.
He was also alerted by a Uvalde city police officer of a 911 call from a student in one of the classrooms the gunman attacked, but did not address the issue, instead ordering officers to evacuate other classrooms not under immediate threat.
Officers waited 77 minutes before finally entering the building and killing the gunman. The US Justice Department has launched an investigation into the dismal police response. Last week, survivors of the shooting and victims' families filed a class action lawsuit against local law enforcement, the school district, and others, seeking billions in damages.
Police have struggled to give a sufficient reason for the delayed response.
Nolasco has managed to avoid being held accountable, while several other senior officers have been fired or forced to step down. He also maintains that he did nothing wrong that day, and that his response was adequate.
When he was interviewed nine days after the shooting, he said that he and his deputies had suffered too, stating, "It's bulls**t that we're called cowards."
Cover photo: Collage: Uvalde County Sheriff's Office & CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP