Uvalde school shooting report blames all agencies for failures
The report says it’s unclear if lives could have been saved with a quicker response, but leaves the possibility open.
“The lack of leadership could have contributed to the loss of life as the injured victims waited over an hour for help, and the attacker continued to fire his weapon sporadically,” says part of the report obtained by the Washington Post.
Rather than isolating blame on local officers, as some have done since the shooting, the report casts a wider net of responsibility on “all law enforcement…on this tragic day.” .
“Hundreds of responders from numerous law enforcement agencies — many better trained and equipped than school district police — quickly arrived on the scene,” the report said. “These other responders, who also had training in active shooter response and the interrelationship of law enforcement, could have helped resolve the ongoing chaos. Yet in this crisis, no responder took initiative.
Nineteen students and two teachers died in the shooting of 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, who was killed when police burst into a classroom after a long delay.
“Other than the perpetrator, this report found no ‘bad guys’ during its investigation. There is no one to whom we can attribute malicious or malicious intent,” the report states. “Instead of that, we found systemic failures and grossly poor decision-making.”
Uvalde survivors and their families received a hard copy of the report on Sunday morning and were to be notified this afternoon.
Led by state Rep. Dustin Burrows (R), the House committee interviewed three dozen people and reviewed hours of audiovisual evidence, filing everyone from Mayor Don McLaughlin to a 911 dispatcher to a security guard. school and in Arredondo. Some initially resisted interview requests, including Uvalde police officers and Uvalde County Sheriff Ruben Nolasco, but after some negotiation they all gave in.
The committee, which also included former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman (R) and El Paso State Representative Joe Moody (D), worked through several media leaks and damning revelations by the Director of Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven C .McCraw. All interviews took place in camera, the committee exercised caution around an ongoing criminal investigation by the Texas Rangers, the FBI and Uvalde District Attorney Christina Busbee.
The report’s authors said their goal is to provide much-needed answers to families in Uvalde who are struggling to trust anyone with authority in the state of Texas amid competing narratives about how their children and their teachers were killed.
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From the start, state troopers peddled false information to media and officials at the scene, claiming that police confronted the shooter early outside the school, was injured and followed him. on the inside. The governor first praised the police response, then says he was wrong. McCraw later released a timeline, describing a delayed response fraught with baffling errors by incident commander Arredondo, who disputed characterization in an interview with the Texas Tribune. McLaughlin, the mayor, accused the state of blaming their city. Texas State University researchers briefed by the Department of Public Safety found that Uvalde police had a chance of stopping the massacre.
Then came the leaked video. It begins with a van crashing into a dry drainage ditch outside the school and a black-clad Salvador Ramos emerges. He jumps over a fence and walks freely into the school, gun in hand and firing a few shots. In a version published by the Austin-American Statesman, a terrified teacher’s 911 call is heard in the footage as she relays her horror and orders students to return to their classrooms.
Explosions of gunfire follow as the shooter disappears into a classroom; audio for shouting has been removed. Timecode from the hallway fish-eye camera showed police responding three minutes later and moving towards violence. But rapid fire sent them back further down the hall. They remained in this posture for nearly 77 minutes as more law enforcement officers and equipment filled the hallway. At one point, a helmeted officer sprayed his hands with sanitizer from a dispenser.
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But none of the details released before Sunday did much to ease the devastation of survivors, some of whom had sought to save their children on May 24 – only to be stopped by law enforcement.
Burrows said the inquiry’s mandate was not to lay charges but to clarify the events of that day and make legislative recommendations.
After similar mass shootings in Texas, the state legislature has pumped money into improving school safety and some mental health and counseling programs. But lawmakers have consistently eased restrictions on guns like the one Ramos, 18, used at Robb Elementary School. Relatives of those killed and injured have called on state and federal leaders to raise the purchase age for high-powered weapons like the one he used, which have become a staple of mass shootings.
Deadly attacks like the Uvalde rampage regularly trigger after-action reviews, which look at what happened, examine how law enforcement responded, and highlight lessons that could be learned.
Since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, law enforcement officials have learned to quickly pursue gunmen during active attacks to stop the threat, rather than waiting for specialized reinforcements, such as SWAT teams. .
“The longer the assailant remains shooting, the more people may be killed or injured,” says an after-action report on the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado.
In several cases, the reviews identified communication problems which they say arose as police responded to the ongoing carnage. A state commission investigating the 2018 massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida described “a severe radio outage that hampered communications.” Similarly, a state commission examining the Columbine shooting had described an “inability to communicate” between the various responding agencies because “nearly all of their radios were operating on different bandwidths”.
Following the 2013 Washington Navy Yard shooting in which 12 people were killed, a review noted that some officers who responded lost radio communications inside the building, while others did not. could not “transmit vital information to each other due to heavy radio traffic”. Confusion amidst the chaos of an active attack was also a recurring theme in some reports. After a gunman opened fire at Fort Lauderdale airport in 2017, killing five people, a review revealed communication issues as well as uncertainty over who was in charge.
Law enforcement officials have also been criticized for their responses. After the Parkland Massacre, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office acknowledged that one of their deputies worked as a school resource officer but stayed away rather than confronting the shooter.
The state commission that investigated the Parkland shooting said other officers failed to act quickly. In its report, the commission said “several” Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies were filmed or described taking the time to put on ballistic vests, “sometimes for more than a minute and in response to gunfire.”
The report also states that several deputies arrived near the school, and although most heard gunshots, they stayed in the street “and did not immediately walk towards the gunfire to confront the shooter. “.
The reports also highlighted the difficult scenes encountered by responding officers. A review of law enforcement’s response to a 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, described officers searching room after room for shooters and eventually arriving at the last unopened doors, expecting to find the shooters hidden inside.
“I don’t want to say I made peace,” said an officer, according to the report, “but I was ready to go.”
When they entered the final room, the officer said, “I’ve never been so excited not to see anyone.” Police later found the attackers’ vehicle and killed them in a shootout on a residential street.