"We’ll have much to say about the police response, but no criticism of this officer," said Texas State Representative Joe Moody after watching CCTV footage of one of the deadliest school shootings in history.
Video footage from a hallway security camera showing the response to the school shooting at Robb Elementary School was leaked by local news station KVUE News and the Austin American-Statesman earlier this week.
The footage shows dozens of heavily armed and armored police officers cowering for cover and, despite their training, refusing to risk their lives as 77 minutes ticked by before officers eventually took any meaningful action.
Most who've seen the video haven't held back unleashing criticism towards all the officers for taking too much time to breach the door to the classrooms where 21 people were mass murdered, including 19 children, and two women.
Meanwhile, sources like the Texas Tribune published an article claiming criticism for Ruben Ruiz was "misplaced."
On Twitter, Joe Moody continued.
"I couldn’t say nothing seeing this man, who’s lost everything, maligned as if he was indifferent or actively malicious," Moody said, adding that the officer attempted to engage the shooter but was eventually "detained: by other officers who confiscated his gun.
"As he tried to move forward into the hallway, he was detained and they took his gun away from him and escorted him off the scene," Texas DPS direct Steven McCraw testified during a Texas Senate hearing.
So, what's the truth?
The video, which Uvalde officials tried to keep under wraps, shows Ruiz actually had plenty of opportunity to save his wife, and likely the lives of several others had he done anything.
Instead, he did nothing.
In the leaked footage, Ruiz is seen making no effort to move forward in the hallway, and obviously lacked the courage to save his wife, much less children.
And that makes him the biggest coward of all.
Enraged after she refused to pay for his internet service, Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old bully had shot his grandmother and snatched her car keys just minutes before the mass shooting.
Ramos rushed out of his grandmother's home, but it took him several attempts to get her Ford Ranger out of park, according to neighbors who witnessed him arriving and leaving the scene.
Apparently. Ramos didn't know how to drive. But he still managed to find his way Robb Elementary before slamming the truck into the ditch near the entranceway of what would end up being his final destination at 11:29 a.m.
The crash would give police an early start on arriving because police were dispatched by a 911 dispatcher after Ramos fired his first shots at two men who approached the crash scene to help him.
Armed with 100s of rounds and an AR-15 he purchased on his 18th birthday, Ramos crept through the parking lot and headed towards the school building intent on one thing: inflicting as much pain as possible — including mass murdering nearly 20 children.
And no one bothered stopping him.
Timestamp from the video shows Ramos entering the halls of Robb Elementary School at 11:33 a.m.
As he wanders through the hallway, he stops in front a classroom door, fires several shots from the hip into the classroom.
"You're all going to die," he told everyone inside and shut the door.
Minutes Later, a Hero Arrives
One of the victims who now found herself behind the door to classrooms 111 and 112 was 4th grade teacher, Eva Mireles, 44, the wife of Uvalde School District cop Ruben Ruiz, who co-taught a class of 11 with 49-year-old Irma Garcia.
Ruiz arrived inside the hallway of Robb Elementary a few minutes after Ramas entered.
Now wounded, and dying (unless, perhaps, she received medical attention), Mireles was trapped inside the room with Ramos.
According to those who knew him, Ramos enjoyed inflicting pain on animals and was hellbent on doing the same to students in his range.
Mireles then found herself, and all her remaining students, in one of the most terrifying life or death predicaments one could ever imagine as Ramos can be heard in the video firing round after round for the next three minutes.
At some point, with Ramos lurking nearby, as he crept between the classroom next door casually shooting more children, Mireles made somewhat a risky move. Despite the risk of drawing the attention of Ramos, Mireles used her cellphone to sneak a message to her husband, informing him she'd been shot and was dying inside of the room.
Paralysis by Analysis
Mireles — and a classroom full of children — needed help.
And Ruiz was just the guy to call.
You would think, at least.
As luck would have it, the officer response time was quicker than it otherwise would have been since 911 had already dispatched the officers to Robb Elementary after Ramos was seen exiting the crash scene and snaking his way towards the school armed with an AR-15.
This seemingly minor detail could have been a tiny bright spot in a sea of darkness.
Ruiz timed his arrival with the first wave of officers after his wife texted requesting his help. And he had trained for this day, which gave him all the preparation he needed.
In fact, on 2018, before being hired by UCISD, Ruiz attended the Active Shooter and Advanced SWAT School, according to the Uvalde County Independent School District's website, which is still operating even though the page mentioning Ruiz's training was moved after the shooting.
Protocol for a Trained Coward
At this point, according to experts, two things needed to happen: breach the door and eliminate the shooter, by any means necessary, even if it meant officers risking their lives to save others.
Ever since the Columbine school shooting, police officers have been trained to engage an active shooter as soon as possible.
"The protocol is, as soon as you determine there is an active shooter you don't wait for anyone," Steve Ijames, an expert who has led training sessions on active-shooter situations for police agencies since the mid-1990s told NPR after watching the video
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Unless the shooter was eliminated, it would be impossible for medical personnel to do their jobs.
"You enter and move to neutralize, and it may be at your peril," Ijames explained.
"It'd be great if you had some help. But I can assure you those kids need help more than you need help."
Ruiz had plenty of officers to back him up.
The situation required someone to put their life on the line, but Ruiz is frozen seen standing down along with the others for nearly an hour and a half.
After a tactical unit from border patrol, of all agencies, were finally able to breach the door and [allegedly] kill the shooter, Eva Mireles was still alive.
But she died while being transported to the hospital.
Texas Active Shooter Doctrine
Police departments in Texas adhere to a doctrine that's widely accepted when dealing with an active shooter.
"That doctrine requires officers . . . we don't care what agency you're from; you don't have to have a leader on the scene . . . every officer lines up, stacks up, goes [in] and finds where those rounds are being fired [from'], and keeps shooting until the subject is dead. Period," Texas DPS Director McGraw explained during an interview.
There's no doubt Ruiz and the other officers inside had been trained on this.
But not a single officer in the hallway of Robb Elementary School was prevented from doing what needed to be done.
They just didn't have the courage.
Police PR departments around the country love to constantly blame training or lack of training for any type of misdeed or misconduct under the sun. And it'll likely happen in this case, too.
Thanks to the work of KVUE Austin, the public gets to witness for themselves and determine what went wrong.
Lies by the department and those involved have been piling up for weeks.
But the video showed what many knew all along. The only reasonable answer to what went wrong at Robb Elementary School is cowardice.
And that holds true for every single officer who sat on their hands, lurking in the hallway, holding up the walls with their well-sanitized hands, and so many of them standing down.
And it holds true especially for officer Ruben Ruiz. He doesn't get a pass because his wife was inside. He deserved more criticism because his wife was inside.
Ramos was clearly outnumbered.
Those who've called officer Ruiz a coward are simply calling a spade a spade, especially because he lost his wife.