UVALDE, Texas, USA ( Associated Press) — The U.S. Justice Department announced Sunday that it will examine how law enforcement responded to the shooting at a Texas school, a rare federal review prompted by questions surrounding to the changing and sometimes contradictory information given by the authorities, something that has outraged a shocked and hurt community.
Department spokesman Anthony Coley said the review will be conducted in a fair, impartial and independent manner, and its findings will be made public. The announcement was made while President Joe Biden was visiting Uvalde, where he and First Lady Jill Biden paid condolences at a makeshift memorial to the 19 children and two teachers killed Tuesday at Robb Elementary School.
The goal of the review requested by the Mayor is “to provide an independent version of police actions and response that day, and to identify lessons learned and best practices in order to help first responders prepare for and respond to events in where there is an armed person shooting,” Coley said in a statement.
The department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services will handle the review. It is not known how it will be carried out, if police officials will be forced to cooperate and when it could be concluded.
It is somewhat unusual for such a review to take place; In general, most after-action reports are compiled by local law enforcement agencies or outside groups. The Justice Department conducted similar reviews after 14 people were killed in a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, in 2015, and after the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the deadliest attack on the LGBTQ community in the history of the United States, in which 49 people were killed and 53 were injured.
The frustration, anger and questions surrounding the police response to the shooting in Uvalde deepened Friday after authorities disclosed that despite repeated 911 calls from students and teachers, the school district police chief had told more than a dozen officers to wait in a school hallway. Officials said he believed the suspect was holed up inside adjoining classrooms and that he was no longer attacking anyone.
That revelation sparked more pain and raised new questions about whether more lives were lost because agents didn’t act more quickly to apprehend the armed 18-year-old, who was ultimately shot to death by tactical Border Patrol agents.
Biden has not spoken publicly about the police response to the massacre.
Balsamo reported from Washington.