Texas Department of Public Safety Lieutenant Chris Olivarez told reporters that officers had not entered the Robb Elementary School right away because they were concerned they could be shot.
In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Olivarez was grilled on why the officers didn’t rush the school rather than wait.
Olivarez explained that initially, they had gone into the school very quickly. When gunfire erupted, they called for backup and opted to wait for assistance rather than charging the classroom where the gunman had already barricaded himself.
“Don’t current best practices, don’t they call for officers to disable a shooter as quickly as possible, regardless of how many officers are actually on-site?” Blitzer asked.
Olivarez agreed and offered, “The active shooter situation, you want to stop the killing, you want to preserve life, but also one thing that – of course, the American people need to understand — that officers are making entry into this building. They do not know where the gunman is.”
“They are hearing gunshots. They are receiving gunshots,” Olivares continued. “At that point, if they proceeded any further not knowing where the suspect was at, they could’ve been shot, they could’ve been killed, and that gunman would have had an opportunity to kill other people inside that school.”
Olivarez told “CBS Mornings” co-host Tony Dokoupil that several officers were shot in the initial confrontation with the shooter. However, he stressed that the limited manpower on the scene prompted the officers to focus on evacuating as many people as possible rather than breaching the barricaded classroom.
Since the Tuesday shooting, conflicting reports of the gunman engaging law enforcement before entering the school have flooded mainstream and social media outlets. Initial reports said the school resource officer engaged the suspect before entering the building. However, DPS confirmed on Thursday that no law enforcement confronted or engaged the shooter before entering the building through an unlocked door.