The footage shows cops checking their phones, cleaning their hands while children were being killed.
It’s been more than a month since a lone gunman entered Robb Elementary school and killed 19 children and two teachers, all while local law enforcement did, well, nothing much really. Despite Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s initial declaration that the Uvalde massacre would have “been worse” if not for the cops who “showed amazing courage by running toward gunfire for the singular purpose of trying to save lives,” each new revelation from the ongoing investigation into the shooting points to the diametric opposite — a bungling of such massive, near-inconceivable proportions that the city of Uvalde has become virtually synonymous with both the shooting itself, and, to an even larger degree, the apparent cover-up by city officials thereof.
Given all that, it’s hard to imagine anything could make the Uvalde police look even worse beyond what we already know about their staggering ineptitude (and that’s being generous). And yet, newly leaked video from inside Robb Elementary manages to do exactly that, and more.
Footage obtained and published Tuesday by the Austin American Statesman shows police checking their phones and even using a nearby hand sanitizer dispenser as they stand idly in the school hallway just feet away from the ongoing bloodshed. In a chilling, if inadvertently damning note, the video is features a cautionary warning that “the sound of children screaming has been removed.”
The video, compiled from area security feeds and police body-worn cameras, offers the most detailed look to date at just how police responded — or rather, didn’t — during the more than 70-minute interim between when they arrived at the scene of the shooting and when they finally entered the classroom and killed the gunman. Throughout it all, the officers are shown wearing heavy armor and carrying an array of breaching equipment, but taking no tactical action as they can evidently hear the (edited out) screams of terrified and dying children as the gunman continued his rampage.
In a particularly ironic and depressingly morbid moment, one officer is seen in the footage checking his cell phone, whose lock screen is the iconic “Punisher” logo worn by the Marvel comics character famous for his vigilante embrace of crime fighting ultraviolence — at great cost to his own personal safety.
While some Texas officials — including Abbott himself — have long pushed for the video to be made public, its publication on Tuesday prompted intense pushback from Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin. During a City Council meeting on Tuesday, McLaughlin raged against the media for preempting next week’s scheduled release of the footage with the leak.
“The way that video was released today is one of the most chicken things I've ever seen,” McLaughlin fumed, as a Uvalde city counselor similarly called the publication “chicken shit.”
Understandably, Uvalde residents resisted the officials overwrought ire, with one meeting attendee responding “what about the cops? Were they chicken shit?”
The answer, unfortunately, is obvious.