Uvalde, TX – The Uvalde school district police officer seen looking at his cell phone while standing inside Robb Elementary School as a gunman murdered 21 people was the husband of Eva Mireles, who ultimately died in the attack.
Mireles, 44, had contacted her husband, Uvalde Consolidated Independent Schools District Police Department (UCISDPD) Officer Ruben Ruiz, after she was shot as she attempted to shield her students from the gunman’s barrage of bullets inside her classroom on May 24, Texas Representative Joe Moody (D – El Paso) tweeted on Wednesday.
“This is the husband of teacher Eva Mireles, who contacted him on his phone from her classroom while he was on-scene to say that she’d been shot and was dying,” Moody wrote.
Moody gave context to the situation after leaked surveillance footage from inside the school during the police response was published online on Tuesday.
Critics were quick to accost Officer Ruiz after the video showed him looking at his cell phone during the massacre.
“This really makes my blood boil,” former speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives Terrance Carroll ranted in a tweet. “This officer is checking his phone while kids & teachers are literally dying a few doors down. And if it this couldn’t get any worse, his screensaver is the Punisher skull with a thin blue line.”
This really makes my blood boil. This officer is checking his phone while kids & teachers are literally dying a few doors down. And if it this couldn’t get any worse, his screensaver is the Punisher skull with a thin blue line. #Uvalde #uvaldevideo #uvaldePolice pic.twitter.com/w77alqqjVT
— Terrance Carroll (@speakercarroll) July 13, 2022
Los Angeles podcast host Albert Jaragua Corado was also quick to berate the officer, The Texas Tribune reported.
“That cop in Uvalde having his lock screen be the Punisher logo and him being scared to take on an active shooter is truly the perfect encapsulation of how cops see themselves vs who they really are,” Corado declared.
In actuality, Officer Ruiz did try to rush in to rescue his dying wife, resulting in him being held back by other unidentified officers.
“He tried to move forward into the hallway,” Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steven McCraw previously testified during a Texas Senate committee hearing on June 21, according to WFAA. “He was detained, and they took his gun away from him and escorted him off the scene.”
Mireles was located after police finally breached the classroom and killed the gunman, but she succumbed to her wounds while in route to the hospital, The Texas Tribune reported.
Moody said the snap judgements made by many who saw the footage of the officer looking at his phone during the shooting were both unfair and inaccurate.
“I’d not planned to speak publicly until the report was released, but I couldn’t say nothing seeing this man, who’s lost everything, maligned as if he was indifferent or actively malicious. Context matters,” he wrote.
“To those who haven’t bothered to read even the news that’s been reported in your rush to judgment, he attempted to engage but was removed from the building and disarmed,” Moody added. “We’ll have much to say about the police response, but no criticism of this officer.”
The release of the leaked surveillance footage occurred just days before officials planned to show it privately to the families of the victims of the school shooting, the Texas Tribune reported.
The footage was slated to be released to the public on July 17.
Critics were also quick to lambaste another officer who was seen using a hand sanitizer dispenser as he stood in the hallway while the horrific attack was still underway.
But according to sources involved in the investigation, the hand-sanitizing officer was actually an Uvalde County sheriff’s deputy who had been instructed to get ready to help triage wounded victims, The Texas Tribune reported.
Other law enforcement officers staged medical equipment and put on gloves as they prepared to remove children from the classrooms.
Twenty-one people were killed and 17 more were injured during the May 24 attack.
Nineteen of the murdered victims were children.
“There’s compelling evidence that the law enforcement response to the attack at Robb Elementary was an abject failure and antithetical to everything we’ve learned over the last two decades since the Columbine massacre,” Director McCraw said.
“Three minutes after the subject entered the west building, there was a sufficient number of armed officers wearing body armor to isolate, distract and neutralize the subject,” he continued. “The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander, who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children.”
Director McCraw has placed blame for the delayed law enforcement response to the massacre squarely on the shoulders of Uvalde Consolidated Independent Schools District (UCISD) Police Chief Pete Arredondo, who the director alleged was the “on-scene commander.”
Chief Arredondo has said he believed he was in the role of a front-line responder and that someone else was commanding the larger police response to the situation.