During the 77-minute period in which nearly 400 police officers took no collective action to engage and neutralize the Robb Elementary mass shooter who had trapped dozens of dead and wounded second-grade students inside a classroom with him, one officer can be seen heading down the hallway toward the killer's location, according to recently released body cam footage.
The officer was Ruben Ruiz of the Uvalde Police Department. Ruiz was aware of the situation because he had received a call from his wife, Eva Mireles, a Robb Elementary teacher; Mireles, unfortunately, was inside the classroom and dying of a gunshot wound.
In the footage, Ruiz tries to hurry past the other officers and approach the classroom, gun in hand. He is stopped, and held back.
"She said she's shot," he protests, to no avail.
Wow. This is the moment when police kept Uvalde officer Ruben Ruiz, gun in-hand, from storming the classroom where his wife had been shot. (Via @davenewworld_2)
"She said she's shot!" pic.twitter.com/wdcXLWVhqt
— Sawyer Hackett (@SawyerHackett) July 20, 2022
Ruiz appeared in previously released footage, where he could be seen checking his phone. This was cited by some as further evidence of Uvalde P.D.'s lack of urgency, but it's now more understandable: Ruiz was actively prevented from confronting the shooter, and his phone was his only means of contacting his wife.
"What happened to (Ruiz) is he tried to move forward into the hallway, he was detained and they took his gun away from him and they escorted him from the scene," said Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw during a hearing last month. The recent video footage matches this description.
Actions taken by other police officers to actively prevent one of their own from attempting to resolve the situation are consistent with what was happening outside the school, where officers restrained and even handcuffed parents who were desperately trying to intervene. One mother, Angeli Gomez, was handcuffed and arrested, but escaped custody and entered the school anyway, where she found and rescued her children.
The decision by Uvalde police to wait—and wait, wait, and wait—before confronting the shooter runs counter to all police training on school mass shooting scenarios. Ever since the Columbine mass shooting in 1999, law enforcement have been instructed to immediately rush the shooter without waiting for backup, better equipment, or for the right moment. Uvalde police had also received training that called for them to confront the mass shooter without delay, according to The New York Times.
But on May 24, 2022, when the shooter attacked the school, the police did everything wrong for more than an hour. They waited for more officers, for tactical gear and better weaponry, and incomprehensibly failed to procure a key for a door that was not even locked. It was failure after failure, even though some people were still alive inside the classroom and frantically dialing 9-1-1 for help. A swifter response would have put officers' lives in greater danger, but it would have also allowed medical personnel to assist the victims more quickly. It's not clear how many lives could have been saved this way—if any—but every minute the survivors remained trapped in that classroom increased the risk to them, to say nothing of their mental anguish.
Ruiz's wife, Eva Mireles, succumbed to her wounds after speaking with him.