Exclusive: the Officer Under Investigation for the Uvalde Response Issued an Order to Postpone the Classroom Breach

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CNN sources say that a Texas state police captain tried to stop police from going into classrooms to stop the tragedy at Robb Elementary. He is being looked into right now because a witness said he told his officers not to go to the school right after the killing.

CNN has a recording of Capt. Joel Betancourt told a strike crew to wait 70 minutes after the attack started. Betancourt thought the team would be better. Betancourt, a 15-year DPS veteran, has been criticized in separate police reports (DPS).

CNN got memos written two days after the shooting on May 24 that explains how slow and disorganized the DPS response was. When the gunman started shooting, the first attempt to help the people he was holding stopped. Nineteen kids and two teachers were killed in the crime.

“I heard someone yell, ‘Captain Betancourt told all DPS employees to stay outside the building’,” a DPS lieutenant wrote after driving 40 miles at 130 mph to the site. A DPS sergeant wrote in a memo that it was against training to go into the building where the shooter was.

Col. Steven McCraw, the head of DPS, told CNN that Betancourt is being looked into for telling officers not to go into the hallway. Last month, McCraw said that the IG is looking into it.

Betancourt was questioned many times after the incident, and CNN found that he is one of seven current and former DPS officers who are being looked into further by the inspector general.

Exclusive the Officer Under Investigation for the Uvalde Response Issued an Order to Postpone the Classroom Breach

Sources say he told police he arrived at Robb Elementary around 12:45 p.m. “Hi, DPS Captain Betancourt. The breach team needs to be patient. “The breach team has to wait,” he said at 12:48 p.m. on May 24 (as heard on audio from a body camera).

Sources say that Betancourt told investigators that he didn’t know what was going on, including that BORTAC was coming up to the gunman. Sources say he told the players to wait because he thought the team would get better.

Sources say he told agents that no one was following his order.

The DPS says that officers never had control or gave orders, but CNN’s notes and recordings show that this is not true. Pedro “Pete” Arredondo was in charge of a response that was an “abject failure,” according to DPS Director McCraw. Arredondo admitted that he wasn’t in charge of the situation.

CNN reached Betancourt by phone, email, and text message. No response. Betancourt is still working for DPS. DPS didn’t comment. After the shooting, two cops said they were told not to go into the school. In the memos, officers didn’t say when they got the message.

Betancourt told investigators that he remembered asking DPS police to stay outside and build a perimeter. He says he did this after Uvalde Sheriff Ruben Nolasco told him there were too many people inside. Nolasco hasn’t talked to CNN yet.

No names are given for the DPS officers being looked into. McCraw of CNN and other sources both said that Betancourt was involved. Crimson Elizondo left DPS to work for Uvalde this summer. She was fired after CNN wrote about what she said and did on the day of the atrocity.

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The Shooting Was First Reported

CNN sources say that Betancourt, the most senior officer being looked at for the bad response, told investigators that he didn’t have much to do with the Robb Elementary operation until after the gunman was killed.

Several sources told CNN that the first direct accounts from the police under investigation come from interviews done in the days after the tragedy.

Betancourt told investigators that he was in Eagle Pass, Texas when the first call about a shooting came in at 11:50 a.m., but it wasn’t clear how serious the situation was. As more information came out, they left. Betancourt drove 60 km to Uvalde and stopped for gas.

Agents say Betancourt told them he didn’t have a body camera or dash cam. Sources say he called Uvalde Sheriff Nolasco while driving and found out that a gunman with an AK-47 was locked in the school.

Betancourt told investigators that he arrived at the scene at 12:45 p.m. and thought that Nolasco was in charge.

After the gunman was killed, he saw the police chief of the school district, Arredondo, and thought he was in charge. In August, the Uvalde school board fired Arredondo, and he wants to get his job back.

Exclusive the Officer Under Investigation for the Uvalde Response Issued an Order to Postpone the Classroom Breach

Betancourt was asked if he talked to anyone about why the classrooms weren’t broken into. He said that he didn’t and that he only remembered negotiating with the shooter.

Sources say he told investigators that he gave the “stand by” order because of what Nolasco told him and because he thought a better SWAT team was still going to the school.

After the young gunman was killed, Betancourt worked to clean up the murder scene and set up a command post. Sources say that he used FaceTime to show his bosses the school after the massacre.

CNN said that he didn’t know there were children in the building until after the breach.

Betancourt’s Initial Offensive Texts

CNN said that at least two officers were told about the attack at Robb Elementary by Betancourt. A sergeant said that Betancourt texted him at 11:37 a.m. about an “active shooter” situation. This makes it hard to believe that Betancourt got engaged later.

Victor Escalon, who is in charge of DPS’s South Texas Region, said that Betancourt sent him a text message at 12:09 p.m. One person, possibly a teacher, was shot in the head, one officer was hurt, a child had an AK-47, CNU was notified, and the suspect was barricaded. The medics are sent out. Sources say that a drone team is on the way.

At the request of District Attorney Christina Mitchell Busbee, McCraw and other DPS leaders have refused to talk about or share information about internal investigations. Her criminal investigation could take years, and she will charge anyone, including police officers, who did something wrong at Robb Elementary.

CNN is part of a group that is suing the DPS for information that was kept from them, such as radio broadcasts and body camera footage.

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