A Uvalde police officer married to a teacher killed in last month's shooting at Robb Elementary School tried to save her but was detained by authorities, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Col. Steven McCraw testified on Tuesday.
Ruben Ruiz, an officer for the Uvalde school district, arrived on the scene after the gunman entered the school and opened fire. His wife, teacher Eva Mireles, called him and said "she had been shot and was dying," McCraw said during a Texas Senate hearing.
"As he tried to move forward into the hallway, he was detained and they took his gun away from him and escorted him off the scene," McCraw said.
He did not say who specifically detained the officer. Ruiz, a 16-year veteran, had posted photos on Facebook of him conducting an active-shooter drill on Facebook weeks before the shooting. Numerous parents previously reported that they were detained and some even tackled, Tasered, or pepper-sprayed by authorities while trying to enter the school as officers waited 77 minutes before confronting the 18-year-old gunman armed with an AR-15-style rifle.
McCraw on Tuesday called the police response an "abject failure," faulting Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo for placing "the lives of officers before the lives of children." He said that "one of the biggest problems" was "not only the lack of leadership, but also the misinformation that's being provided."
McCraw said that officers arrived on the scene within three minutes.
"What officers were being told was, 'The subject is contained, the chief is in the classroom or the office, negotiating or talking to the subject. So everyone is treating it, that comes in afterwards, you're in the hallway and you're looking at it, and you're being told this, there's no reason to discount that," he said. "Now, certainly if you heard, 'Well, wait a minute, we're getting 911 calls from children in the classroom.' And we didn't know the timeline."
McCraw disputed initial reports about the shooting, testifying that officers with rifles arrived on the scene within minutes and could not have been locked out of the classroom because the door did not lock from inside. He faulted Arredondo but acknowledged that all law enforcement agencies on the scene ultimately failed under his direction.
"I don't mean to be hypercritical of the on-scene commander," McCraw said. "But those are the facts … this set our profession back a decade."
Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.
McCraw's testimony came after weeks of shifting timelines and details about how the shooting unfolded. But Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin held a press conference on Tuesday faulting McCraw for the confusion and falsehoods around the shooting.
"I'm gonna be throwing people under the bus tonight in a speech because for too long, we've been told we can't talk, we can't answer, and we can't say anything. Today that's over with," he said, accusing McCraw of repeatedly pushing false accounts of the shooting.
"Col. McCraw has continued to, whether you want to call it a lie, leak, mislead or misstate information in order to distance his own troopers and Rangers from the response," he said. "Every briefing he leaves out the number of his own officers and Rangers that were on the scene that day."
Officers from at least eight law enforcement agencies were in the hallway outside the classroom during the shooting, the mayor said.
"Col. McCraw has an agenda and has not to present a full report and to give factual answers to the families of this community," McLaughlin added. "The petty infighting to make headlines and politically motivated scapegoating is not helping anyone. It is dividing a community and further frustrating grieving families."