In Ecclesiastes, King Solomon tells us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” There is “a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build …” And most importantly of all are the last items he lists, “a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”
In a small public school named Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that was a time too. It was a time when death walked the halls and entered school rooms, and a response was required. The only way to preserve life that day was to charge in and take the one life causing death.
The moment required bravery and action. The more we learn about the awful mass shooting events in Uvalde, Texas, it’s unclear if anyone stepped up and answered the call.
The time called for bravery, but none was found.
Police failed the moment.
When history calls, you can answer it or cower in place. The more the police department and other law enforcement agencies describe their actions in attempting to save lives, the more it sounds like they failed.
Fox News reports that “the alleged school shooter was inside a Uvalde, Texas elementary school for one hour before being taken down by a U.S. Border Patrol tactical team member and is believed to have entered the school unobstructed without confronting a school resource officer, as previous statements suggested.”
Fox further reported that Victor Escalon, Texas Department of Public Safety regional director for South Texas, told them:
“[T]he officers who first arrived on the scene did not make entry initially because of the “gunfire they’re receiving,” adding that the U.S. Border Patrol tactical teams arrived one hour later.
“Approximately an hour later, U.S. Border Patrol tactical teams arrive. They make entry, shoot and kill the suspect,” Escalon said.
Later on, CNN got another Texas DPS officer on the record saying the same thing.
Protect and serve?
In an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, DPS Lt. Chris Olivarez said:
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. 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.
Of course, they could get shot — it’s an active shooter situation. However, this is one of those situations where we demand more of those put in place to “protect and serve.”
Those three words are key: police protect their communities and serve the people living there. There’s no evidence that happened at all here. The spokesmen for the various Texas agencies are talking about their first responders getting shot at — and I get that. It’s a terrifying proposition.
Parents deserve more.
But that is quite literally what society pays them to do. While others are scared, while the defenseless hide, we arm the few and the ready to charge into a situation and shift the odds in justice’s favor. We do not pay them to stand outside arresting parents trying to save their children.
And that happened, by the way. Parents got handcuffed for trying to do what you’d expect: rescue their children when the police did nothing.
Angeli Rose Gomez, a parent on the scene, told the Wall Street Journal she was “waiting outside for her children. She said she was one of numerous parents who began encouraging—first politely, and then with more urgency—police and other law enforcement to enter the school sooner. After a few minutes, she said, U.S. Marshals put her in handcuffs, telling her she was being arrested for intervening in an active investigation.”
The Journal report added, “Ms. Gomez said she convinced local Uvalde police officers whom she knew to persuade the marshals to set her free. She said she saw a father tackled and thrown to the ground by police and a third pepper-sprayed. Once freed from her cuffs, Ms. Gomez made her distance from the crowd, jumped the school fence, and ran inside to grab her two children. She sprinted out of the school with them.”
We needed action.
Texas authorities deny these allegations. But between the numerous parental reports confirming this fact, there are also multiple cell phone videos proving the parents are telling the truth.
That’s the final galling point about this entire tragedy. Those called to protect and serve now lie about their actions.
Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, was one of those “times” that Solomon referenced. That moment called for action, bravery, and someone to stand up. No one did. No one acted, no one answered, and innocent people died.
The thing about missing those “times” is that it can cost more than a clock or calendar segment. Sometimes life itself is in the balance.
There are many aspects of this event that require answers and solutions. But the part that’s the most shocking is that we witnessed cowardice at a moment when the exact opposite was needed. There wasn’t a single act of cowardice but a whole mass of it.
We aren’t used to seeing that in America. That fact puts us in an uncharted time.