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Video from inside Uvalde school shows officer running from classroom where gunman killed 21

Video obtained by two Texas news outlets provided the first view of a law enforcement response that a public safety official described as an “abject failure.”
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Security video published Tuesday by two Texas news outlets shows police officers retreating from the classroom where a gunman killed 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

The video, which was recorded in a hallway and obtained and edited by the Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV of Austin, shows the officers arriving at Robb Elementary School at 11:36 a.m. May 24, three minutes after the gunman was seen entering the school and walking down an empty hallway. 

NBC News has not independently obtained the video, which provided the first view of a law enforcement response that a Texas public safety official has called an "abject failure."

Uvalde police officers enter Robb Elementary School on May 24.
Uvalde police officers enter Robb Elementary School on May 24.American Statesman

About 20 seconds after the 18-year-old gunman is seen entering the school, he turns to his left and opens fire on a classroom. 

Authorities have said he fired at least 100 shots with an AR-15-style rifle into adjoining classrooms filled mostly with fourth graders.

Chillingly, a student who KVUE reported had been in the bathroom — and was just steps behind the gunman — could be seen in the video running from the gunfire after watching the initial burst of shots.

The American-Statesman reported that the student was rescued later.

About a minute later, after several officers approach the classroom, a second burst of gunfire can be heard, and an officer can be seen racing down the hall. Two others slowly follow him.

It isn't clear what agencies the officers were from. Local, state and federal agencies involved in the response didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday evening.

In the hour that followed the second round of shots, the video shows the number of officers inside the hallway swelling.

At 12:21, several officers with tactical gear can be seen approaching the classroom, yet it isn't until 12:50 that officers enter and fatally shoot the gunman.

While officers are waiting, one can be seen rubbing what appears to be sanitizer on his hands after he crossed the hall to get to a wall-mounted dispenser.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told KVUE last week that the video "needs to be released" to show "exactly what happened."

In a statement Tuesday, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw blasted the release, saying the video should have been seen first by those hit hardest by the massacre.

"I am deeply disappointed this video was released before all of the families who were impacted that day and the community of Uvalde had the opportunity to view it," he said in a statement on the department's website.

Brett Cross, the father of Uziyah Garcia, 10, who died in the shooting, told NBC News' Tom Llamas that watching the video was "heartbreaking."

"We relive this every day," he said. "Now we’re going to hear it, not just relive it — it’s a continuous thing."

He added: "Nobody is telling us anything. And it’s disrespectful to not just us but our kids."

In an editorial published Tuesday, the American-Statesman said it published the video "to continue to bring to light what happened at Robb Elementary, which the families and friends of the Uvalde victims have long been asking for."

At a hearing with lawmakers last month, McCraw described the response to the shooting as an "abject failure and antithetical to everything we've learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre."

"The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from [entering rooms] 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children," he said.

The person state officials have identified as the commander, Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo, told The Texas Tribune last month that he considered himself a front-line officer and not the one managing the response.

"I didn’t issue any orders," he told The Tribune. "I called for assistance and asked for an extraction tool to open" the locked classroom door.

Arredondo, who has been on leave from the school district since June 22, resigned July 2 from the seat he won this year on the Uvalde City Council.