RUMOR ALERT: Officers Rescued Own Children During Texas School Shooting

A number of rumors came out of the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 children and two adults dead.

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A rumor said that police or law enforcement officers went inside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde Texas to rescue their own children on the day of the deadly mass shooting.
Image via Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Claim

Some 91 minutes before stopping the shooter, one or more law enforcement officers went inside Robb Elementary School and rescued their own children.

Fact Check

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On May 26, 2022, racial justice activist Shaun King tweeted that one or more law enforcement officers rescued their own children on the day of the deadly mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, while the incident was unfolding. And that was “91 minutes” before the shooter, Salvador Ramos, was stopped, the tweet alleged.

The Associated Press published an exhaustive article that provided a partial timeline of what local officials say happened at the school that day, a day in which 19 children and two adults were tragically killed.

For the rest of this story, we will specifically be looking into the rumor regarding officers rescuing their own children, a rumor that was sent to us via email by a number of readers.

KENS 5 Video Interview

On Twitter, one user asked King, “Where was this written?” Another person responded with a tweet that contained a video. That clip was quickly on track to be viewed more than 1 million times from that one upload. (It was downloaded and uploaded again by other Twitter users.)

The video came from the San Antonio-based local news station KENS 5. In the clip, KENS 5’s Vanessa Croix interviewed Lt. Christopher Olivarez, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety. It was aired live on the evening of May 24, hours after the shooting.

KENS 5 posted the interview to its own YouTube channel. The part pertinent to this subject begins at the 1:34 mark in the video:

The transcript of the relevant question and answer has been transcribed below:

Vanessa Croix: We’ve heard that some law enforcement officers actually went into [the] school to get their kids out. Can you talk about that?

Lt. Christopher Olivarez: Right, so what we do know Vanessa right now that there was some police officers [and] families trying to get their children out of the school because it was an active shooter situation right now. It’s a terrible situation right now. And, of course, just as we mentioned the loss of life, it’s just terrible, it’s a terrible tragedy now that took place, but again we’ve got to keep acknowledging those brave men and women that actually were there on scene that met the suspect, and of course, we know that they were met with gunfire. Some of them were shot. But at the end of this, the suspect was shot and is now deceased. The threat is now neutralized.

On the afternoon of May 26, we reached out to the Texas Department of Public Safety by email, submitting several questions in an attempt to find the facts behind the matter.

Border Patrol Officer Evacuation

Also on May 26, The New York Times published a story that told of an off-duty Border Patrol officer named Jacob Albarado. According to the reporting, Albarado was just sitting down for a haircut when he received a text message from his wife, Trisha, a fourth-grade teacher at the school. The couple had a second-grade daughter who was also inside the school:

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.

Once he got to the school, he learned that a tactical team was already forming to enter the wing where the gunman was holed up.

So Mr. Albarado quickly made a plan with other officers at the scene: evacuate as many children as possible. “I’m looking for my daughter, but I also know what wing she’s in,” he said, “so I start clearing all the classes in her wing.”

Two officers provided cover, guns drawn, he said, and two others guided the children out on the sidewalk. “They were just all hysterical, of course,” he said. When he finally saw his 8-year-old daughter, Jayda, he said, he hugged her, but then kept moving the other children along.

May 27 News Conference

On May 27, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw spoke at a news conference in front of Robb Elementary School, making a statement and taking questions. The Associated Press published a story with new details from the remarks that were made.

During the news conference, McCraw was asked, “Did any police officers go in to get their own kids while the parents were outside?” McCraw responded only with, “Not that I’m aware of.” (It was reported by a major news organization that McCraw answered by saying “No,” which was somewhat different than McCraw’s real answer, “Not that I’m aware of.”)

The question asked to McCraw about “while the parents were outside” referred to the Wall Street Journal’s reporting that said, as the incident unfolded, parents outside of Robb Elementary said they were “tackled,” placed into “handcuffs,” and “pepper-sprayed,” all while they were “encouraging” the “police and other law enforcement to enter the school.” We also inquired with the Texas Department of Public Safety about this, but have yet to receive a response.

The brief question and answer can be watched in the video below beginning at the 39:00 mark:

At this stage, it’s unclear how many officers may have gone into the school to find their own children. Also unclear was when the officers may have gone in to find their own children and whether that happened before or after the shooter was killed. The “91 minutes” claim, which came from King’s tweet, not the KENS 5 interview, is also a piece of the rumor for which we are continuing to look for evidence.

We will update this story when we learn more details.

Sources:

“2 Officers, Suspect Killed in Texas Border Town Shooting.” AP News, 20 Apr. 2021, https://apnews.com/article/mcallen-shootings-us-news-ap-top-news-police-c9a1a70ea5a5f9f88ab367b6955d1009.

Bleiberg, Jake, et al. “Onlookers Urged Police to Charge into Texas School.” AP News, 25 May 2022, https://apnews.com/article/uvalde-texas-school-shooting-44a7cfb990feaa6ffe482483df6e4683.

—. “Police: Texas Gunman Was inside the School for over an Hour.” AP News, 26 May 2022, https://apnews.com/article/uvalde-school-shooting-politics-texas-shootings-56a4d01fb1cda19947db89fcb6bd85fd.

Findell, Elizabeth, et al. “Uvalde Shooter Fired Outside School for 12 Minutes Before Entering.” Wall Street Journal, 26 May 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uvalde-residents-voice-frustration-over-shooting-response-11653588161.

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.

Shaun King. Twitter, 26 May 2022, https://twitter.com/shaunking/status/1529793282854858752.

Vertuno, Jim, and Elliot Spagat. “Police Waited 48 Minutes in School before Pursuing Shooter.” AP News, 27 May 2022, https://apnews.com/article/uvalde-school-shooting-430b975bbaacce445451e4026cedc171.

Recent Updates
  1. On May 27, this story was updated to add details about The New York Times' reporting about an off-duty Border Patrol officer named Jacob Albarado, who had a wife and daughter inside the school. We also added remarks made at a news conference by Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw.
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