Police captain ‘tried to delay’ officers entering classroom during Uvalde school massacre, audio reveals

Official now under investigation for delayed response

Namita Singh
Friday 21 October 2022 09:14 EDT

Related: Uvalde police response was ‘abject failure’, hearing told

A Texas state police captain reportedly directed his officers not to enter Robb Elementary school in Uvalde to stop the deadly massacre that left 19 students and two educators dead.

Captain Joel Betancourt directed his team to “stand by” and wait for more than 70 minutes into the 77-minute-long shooting, reported CNN. A veteran with over 15 years of experience in the Department of Public Safety (DPS), Mr Betancourt delayed the team from entering the school premises as he believed that a more high-skilled group was on the way, reported the outlet.

“Hey, this is DPS Captain Betancourt. The team that’s going to make breach needs to stand by. The team that’s gonna breach needs to stand by,” he told his team at 12.48pm, reported CNN, citing the audio captured on bodycams of multiple officers.

One of the department officials wrote that he drove at the speed of about 130mph to reach the shooting spot, located about 40 miles away, adding that he heard “someone shout out, Captain Betancourt said all DPS personnel need to be on perimeter, do no (sic) enter building.”

The report added that a DPS sergeant wrote in his memo that, as the directive was “clearly against established training, we both decided to enter the building where the shooter was located”.

Captain Betancourt is now under investigation for the delayed response, said DPS director Colonel Steven McCraw.

Officials have come under fire for their botched response to the fatal school shooting, with Texas lawmakers issuing a damning report in July that found “systemic failures and egregiously poor decision-making” by both police and school officials.

Earlier in October, the school district in Uvalde suspended its entire police force indefinitely following protests from parents of the shooting victims.

Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, responsible for supervising the security of schools in the area including Robb Elementary school, had said that the suspension was indefinite as “additional concern with department operations” was uncovered, reported the BBC.

Earlier last week, Uvalde’s school district superintendent Hal Harrell announced his plans to resign by the end of the academic year, following community outrage over the handling of the school shooting, with the Uvalde school board unanimously voting to begin the search for his successor.

A federal lawsuit has also been filed in Del Rio, Texas against eight entities and three individuals for the massacre.

The lawsuit was filed on 28 September by a parent whose child was wounded in the shooting and two others whose children were on campus at the time. Attorneys for the parents said this is the first federal lawsuit related to the attack.

“The horrors of May 24, 2022 were only possible because so many in positions of power were negligent, careless, and reckless,” according to a statement from Stephanie B Sherman, one of two attorneys representing the parents.

“We are already hearing that many (students) are scared for their lives,” said Monique Alarcon, the other attorney for the parents. “This case is about ensuring that they have access to the care and resources they need.”

The lawsuit alleged a violation of due process rights, negligence, emotional distress and other violations by the Uvalde school district, the city, firearms maker Daniel Defense, gun dealer Oasis Outback and firearms accessory maker Firequest International.

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