In May 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it was opening an investigation into the police response to a mass shooting after reports emerged that local law enforcement had waited more than an hour outside of a classroom at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers. As many expressed outrage over the police response, a story started to circulate on social media that purported to highlight the heroic acts of an off-duty Border Patrol official, Jacob Albarado.
While these posts contained a variety of claims about Albarado, a typical version claimed that he was getting a haircut when he heard about the shooting, that he took his barber’s shotgun and rushed to the school, that he was the first law enforcement officer to go into the school, that he evacuated his daughter, his wife, and some other students from the school, that he broke down the door to the classroom where the shooter was killing students, and that he killed the shooter.
Here’s the text of one viral Facebook post:
JACOB ALBARADO, a Chicano off-duty Border Patrol Officer, went WITHOUT HESITATION into ROBB ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, found his wife (a teacher at the school) and his daughter (a student at Robb Elementary), and had other police officers escort them out of the school to safety. He didn’t stop when his own family was safe.
JACOB ALBARADO was the first person in the line of fire and continued in the efforts to evacuate the school until all wings of Robb Elementary School were cleared.
JACOB ALBARADO got INTO THE ROOM WHERE THE ACTIVE SHOOTER WAS BY BUSTING OPEN THE DOOR (A Key Was Not Used) and TOOK DOWN THE 18-YEAR-OLD AR-15 ARMED ACTIVE SHOOTER With His Barber’s BORROWED HUNTING SHOTGUN.
JACOB ALBARADO Is The VATO WHO SHOWED NO FEAR, HAD THE TRAINING, and THE COJONES To BUST INTO The CLASSROOM and KILL THE JUST TURNED 18-YEAR-OLD AR-15 USING Punk Ass ACTIVE SHOOTER. The 19 COWARDLY Police Officers WAITING and TAKING COVER IN THE HALLWAY OUTSIDE the CLASSROOM DID NOT TRY TO ENTER DUE TO LAME EXCUSES THAT KEPT CHANGING. ONE CHICANO WITHOUT A SWAT TEAM, WITHOUT TACTICAL or BREECHING GEAR, BUT WITH UN CHINGÓN DE GUTS DID WHAT HAD TO BE DONE.
While Albarado truly rushed to the school after learning about the shooting, and while he truly helped evacuate his daughter and other students, these social media posts exaggerated several details of this story. Most importantly, Albarado did not break down the door and kill the shooter.
Did Albarado Take His Barber’s Gun?
This social media post starts out with a true statement. According to The New York Times, Albarado was getting a haircut when he received a text from his wife, a teacher at Robb Elementary, about an active shooter at the school. The off-duty Border Patrol officer borrowed his barber’s shotgun and rushed to the school, where his daughter attended second grade:
Jacob Albarado, an off-duty Border Patrol officer, was about to sit down for a haircut when he got a text message from his wife Trisha, a fourth-grade teacher at Robb Elementary.
“There’s an active shooter,” she said in the message. “Help,” and then: “I love you.”
Mr. Albarado flew out of the barbershop and sped to the school. His wife and the children she taught were hiding under desks and behind curtains. Their daughter, a second grader at Robb, was locked in a bathroom, she had told him. He borrowed a shotgun from the barber, who had come with him.
Was Albarado the First in the Line of Fire?
While local law enforcement has been criticized for waiting to confront the gunmen, they were on the scene before Albarado arrived. In fact, Albarado spoke to other law enforcement officers before searching for his wife and daughter. NBC News reported:
When he arrived, he just saw “chaos” with officers already on the scene.
“I was just trying to get towards my wife’s room and my daughter’s room,” Albarado said.
Albarado explained that he was allowed to go in and offer a helping hand because he knew officers responding to the shooting.
Did Albarado Evacuate Other Students After Finding His Daughter?
Albarado managed to locate his daughter and get her safely out of the building. After that, he went back to help evacuate other children. He learned via another text message that his wife was already outside the school building and safe.
But even [after finding his daughter] his sense of duty did not falter. He worked with other officers, two with their guns drawn to provide cover, to clear out classrooms.
“I cleared out all the rooms there. Saw (my daughter’s) friends there,” he said. “All her friends, I could just see their faces, half of them fine, half of them panicking, crying. I was just trying to keep them as calm as I could as they were evacuating.”
Did Albarado Break Down the Door and Kill The Shooter?
While it’s true that Albarado went to the school to save his family, and while it’s true that he helped evacuate his daughter and other students at the school, there’s no truth to the claim that he broke down a door to a classroom and killed the shooter.
In an interview with “Today,” Albarado said that he saw officers waiting outside of the classroom where the gunman was located. While Albarado said that he initially thought of helping them breach the classroom, he decided against it.
Asked if he saw police poised outside the door where the gunman was, Albarado said he did.
“At one point, I was there at the door fixing to go in, but once again I didn’t have any of my gear. It wouldn’t have been a smart move for me. All those guys had their gear and stuff so like I said, I pulled back.”
Albarado truly rushed to the school with his barber’s shotgun in order to save his wife and daughter after learning that there was an active shooter at Robb Elementary. While Albarado helped to evacuate his daughter and several other children, social media posts distorted the details of this story and falsely claimed that he was singly responsible for breaching the classroom and killing the shooter. In reality, Albarado was not present during this final altercation.
Exclusive: First Responder Recounts Rushing Into Robb Elementary. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2MHdbsgSV8. Accessed 31 May 2022.
Folmar, Chloe. “Border Patrol Agent Recalls Rushing Texas School in Effort to Save Wife, Daughter.” The Hill, 31 May 2022, https://thehill.com/news/state-watch/3506515-border-patrol-agent-recalls-rushing-texas-school-in-effort-to-save-wife-daughter/.
Helmore, Edward. “DoJ Launches Investigation into Police Response to Uvalde School Shooting.” The Guardian, 29 May 2022. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/may/29/uvalde-school-shooting-doj-launches-investigation-into-police-response.
Hernandez, Joe. “Biden Visits Uvalde as DOJ Announces Review of How Police Responded to the Attack.” NPR, 29 May 2022. NPR, https://www.npr.org/2022/05/29/1101984142/justice-department-review-police-response-uvalde-shooting.
Kitroeff, Natalie, et al. “Police Response to Uvalde Shooting Infuriated Parents Clinging to Hope.” The New York Times, 26 May 2022. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/26/us/uvalde-police-response-parents.html.
“Off-Duty CBP Agent Recalls Racing from Barbershop to Uvalde Elementary School to Save Wife, Daughter.” NBC News, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/-duty-cbp-agent-recalls-racing-barbershop-uvalde-elementary-school-wif-rcna31185. Accessed 31 May 2022.