Uvalde investigation details law enforcement’s ‘systemic failures’ in school shooting response

Texas lawmakers release report on Robb Elementary School shooting response

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A committee of Texas state lawmakers investigating the police response to the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde released a 77-page report detailing "systemic failures" and "poor decision making" from those involved, according to a report.

The Texas Tribune reported that it has reviewed the committee's report that detailed how the gunman’s family was unable to recognize warning signs, how the school district strayed from its safety plan and how police disregarded their own active-shooter training.  

A force of 376 law enforcement officers responded to the shooting, according to the report. However, the report found that there was no clear leadership once they amassed at the scene, and that responders lacked basic communications and necessary urgency to take down the gunman.

The investigation criticized the inaction of state and federal law enforcement, who made up the majority of responding officers. The report states that there were 91 state police offers, 149 from U.S. Border Patrol, 25 Uvalde city police officers, 16 sheriff’s deputies and 5 officers from the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police.

UVALDE VICTIMS' FAMILIES TO MEET WITH STATE COMMITTEE INVESTIGATING POLICE RESPONSE TO SCHOOL SHOOTING

Until now, much of the criticism has been directed at former Uvalde schools police Chief Pete Arredondo, who acted as incident commander during the massacre.

Children run to safety after escaping from a window during a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School where a gunman killed nineteen children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. May 24, 2022. 

Children run to safety after escaping from a window during a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School where a gunman killed nineteen children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. May 24, 2022.  (Pete Luna/Uvalde Leader-News/Handout via REUTERS)

The committee said law enforcement failed to quickly confront the suspect, having retreated to safety after taking gunfire and waited for backup. 

"They failed to prioritize saving the lives of innocent victims over their own safety," the report said.

The committee stated that other better trained officers and law enforcement agencies failed in taking leadership from Arredondo over his inaction at the scene.

A law enforcement personnel lights a candle outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday, May 25, 2022.

A law enforcement personnel lights a candle outside Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, Wednesday, May 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

"In this crisis, no responder seized the initiative to establish an incident command post," the committee report said. "Despite an obvious atmosphere of chaos, the ranking officers of other responding agencies did not approach the Uvalde CISD chief of police or anyone else perceived to be in command to point out the lack of and need for a command post, or to offer that specific assistance."

The committee did recognize that some individual officers acted without instruction to try to reach the shooter, and may have been able to do so if other officers had backed them up. 

The committee report also found that the school, despite having proper safeguards in place, was complacent in its implementation. Witnesses told the committee that staff often left doors unlocked and propped them open with rocks, wedges or magnets, partly due to a shortage of keys.

Law enforcement personnel stand outside Robb Elementary School following a shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24.

Law enforcement personnel stand outside Robb Elementary School following a shooting in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

The Texas House of Representatives committee on Sunday invited family members of the 19 students and two teachers killed in the May 24 massacre to review the lawmakers' findings. 

The committee also planned to show relatives the school surveillance video that showed police milling about in a hallway for more than an hour before they eventually killed the gunman.

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This is a developing story; check back for updates.