NATIONAL NEWS

‘Systemic failures’ in Uvalde school massacre, new report finds

Jul 17, 2022, 1:42 PM | Updated: 1:45 pm
UVALDE, TEXAS - JUNE 17: Gifts are seen at a memorial in front of Robb Elementary School on June 17...
UVALDE, TEXAS - JUNE 17: Gifts are seen at a memorial in front of Robb Elementary School on June 17, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — Nearly 400 law enforcement officials rushed to a mass shooting at a Uvalde elementary school, but “systemic failures” created a chaotic scene that lasted more than an hour before the gunman who took 21 lives was finally confronted and killed, according to a report from investigators released Sunday.

The nearly 80-page report was the first to criticize both state and federal law enforcement and not just local authorities in the Texas town for the bewildering inaction by heavily armed officers as a gunman fired inside a fourth-grade classroom.

“At Robb Elementary, law enforcement responders failed to adhere to their active shooter training, and they failed to prioritize saving innocent lives over their own safety,” the report said.

The gunman fired approximately 142 rounds inside the building, and it is “almost certain” that 100 shots came before any officer entered, according to the report.

The report — the most complete account yet of the hesitant and haphazard response to the May 24 massacre at Robb Elementary School — was written by an investigative committee from the Texas House of Representatives and released to family members Sunday.

According to the report, 376 law enforcement officers massed at the school. The overwhelming majority of those who responded were federal and state law enforcement. That included nearly 150 U.S. Border Patrol agents and 91 state police officials, according to the Tribune.

“It’s a joke. They’re a joke. They’ve got no business wearing a badge. None of them do,” Vincent Salazar, grandfather of 11-year-old Layla Salazer, said Sunday.

The report followed weeks of closed-door interviews with more than 40 people, including witnesses and law enforcement who were on the scene of the shooting.

Flowers that had been piled high in the city’s central square had been removed as of Sunday, leaving a few stuffed animal maps scattered around the fountains alongside photos of some of the children who were killed.

Video from Uvalde shooting shows gunman enter school and officers in hallway retreat after taking fire

A nearly 80-minute hallway surveillance video published by the Austin American-Statesman this week publicly showed for the first time a hesitant and haphazard tactical response, which the head of Texas’ state police has condemned as a failure and some Uvalde residents have blasted as cowardly.

Calls for police accountability have grown in Uvalde since the shooting. So far, only one officer from the scene of the deadliest school shooting in Texas history is known to be on leave.

The report is the result of one of several investigations into the shooting, including another led by the Justice Department. A report earlier this month by tactical experts at Texas State University alleged that a Uvalde police officer had a chance to stop the gunman before he went inside the school armed with an AR-15.

But in an example of the conflicting statements and disputed accounts since the shooting, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin has said that never happened. That report had been done at the request of the Texas Department of Public Safety, which McLaughlin has increasingly criticized and accused of trying to minimize the role of its troopers during the massacre.

Steve McCraw, the head of Texas DPS, has called the police response an abject failure.

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‘Systemic failures’ in Uvalde school massacre, new report finds