Officer Husband of Slain Uvalde Teacher Tried to Save Her But Was Detained, Removed from Scene, Says Official
The husband of slain elementary teacher Eva Mireles tried to save her at Robb Elementary School, but was forbidden from doing so before being detained and then taken away from the scene, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Col. Steven McCraw testified on Tuesday.
McCraw appeared before a Texas Senate committee on Tuesday to speak about the police response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School that killed 19 students and two teachers, including Mireles.
According to McCraw, Mireles called her husband, officer Ruben Ruiz, from her classroom during the rampage. She allegedly told him that "she had been shot and was dying."
"And what happened to him, is he tried to move forward into the hallway," McCraw testified. "He was detained and they took his gun away from him and escorted him off the scene."
McCraw did not specify who detained Ruiz.
The shocking revelation was one more blemish on the Uvalde police department, which has faced widespread criticism for waiting more than an hour to neutralize the gunman while he was inside the school.
During his testimony, McCraw was blunt, saying that the law enforcement response was "an abject failure" and claiming that police could have stopped the shooter within three minutes after arriving at the school.
"The officers had weapons; the children had none," McCraw said during the hearing, which PEOPLE watched. "The officers had body armor; the children had none. The officers had training; the subject had none. One hour, 14 minutes and eight seconds. That's how long children waited, and the teachers waited, in Room 111 to be rescued."
McCraw placed the blame squarely on Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo, who was the commanding officer at the scene — even though he later said that he wasn't aware he was in charge. In his testimony, McCraw said that Arredondo placed the lives of his officers before those of the children.
On Tuesday, McCraw methodically laid out undisputed facts: officers with rifles were on the scene within moments, and the classroom doors could not have been locked from the inside.
Surveillance video from the scene seems to indicate that officers did not even try to open the doors — which were likely already unlocked — and instead waited for more than an hour to receive keys to the classrooms.
"I don't mean to be hyper-critical of the on-scene commander," McCraw testified on Tuesday morning. "But those are the facts. This set our profession back a decade."
The investigation into the police response is ongoing.
The school district in Uvalde has opened an official account with First State Bank of Uvalde to support Robb Elementary families affected by the tragedy. People can send checks through the mail (payable to the "Robb School Memorial Fund") or donate money through Zelle to [email protected]. People can also donate by calling 830-356-2273.