A massive but disorganized and chaotic law enforcement response. The “regrettable” culture of non-compliance on school safety in relation to the basics of closed doors. Online signs of violence coming from the shooter.
The long-awaited Texas House report of the May 24 shooting at Rob Elementary in Uvalde that killed 19 fourth-graders and two teachers spread responsibility for a complicit response from law enforcement wider than previous accounts. It also questioned the security protocols at the school and took a deep dive into the background of the shooter.
Here are the key findings of the House investigation:
extensive but inept response
The report noted a massive but inept response from heavily armed local, state and federal law enforcement. It began when the shooter crashed his truck on the school grounds and entered the building, then continued through excruciating inaction lasting over an hour, even as parents begged the authorities to do something and dispatchers took 911 calls from inside the classrooms.
“At Rob Elementary, law enforcement responders failed to adhere to their active shooter training, and they failed to prioritize saving the lives of innocent victims over their own safety,” the report said.
Although there has been much criticism in the Uvalde School District police, the report blamed all responding agencies, spreading the responsibility far more than previously thought.
About 400 law enforcement officers arrived at the school, most of whom were state and federal officials, only to spend a chaotic hour where no one seemed to be in command. The report states that Uvalde School police chief Pete Arredondo, who received more investigations that day than any other officer at the scene, failed to establish himself as incident commander and transferred that responsibility to someone else. did not do.
And yet, despite the “apparent atmosphere of anarchy”, no other officer stepped in to take over.
While the group of early responders at the scene “acted appropriately by attempting to disrupt the classrooms and stop the attacker,” they were chased back by gunfire. He lost significant momentum by treating the scene as a “barricade shooter” rather than an “active shooter”.
The report said the initial response may have lacked urgency because of the frequency of school lockdowns in recent months as law enforcement pursued suspected human traffickers smuggling migrants into the country. In some cases, smugglers crash the vehicles and the passengers flee in all directions.
There were about 50 such alarms in the school district between February and May 2022. The frequency of less-severe alerts in Uvalde “diminished the importance of the alert and the readiness of all to act,” the report concluded.
“The initial reaction from many administrators, educators and law enforcement respondents was that this was a less dangerous situation,” the report said.
Even Arredondo and another response officer said they considered the possibility when they did not see the victims immediately after entering the school.
Whether the school doors were properly closed and the shooter’s unhindered entry from the day of the shooting could have been delayed, is an important question.
The report said that Rob Elementary had a recurring problem with maintaining locks and doors, and that the school had a “culture of non-compliance” with respect to locked doors, “which proved fatal.”
The report said the door the shooter entered the building was not locked as it should have been, and the door to the classroom he entered may not have been locked. The lock teacher, the headmaster, another school employee and several fourth-grade students were aware of that not working properly. No work order was ever given to fix it.
Shooter’s Violence Signs
The shooter had given some indication of the violence to come in the months and days leading up to the shooting.
A year before the shooting, he had been showing interest in gory and violent sex online and at one point carried around a dead cat. While playing online games, he would get angry on losing and threaten others, especially women. He also shared a developing fascination with school shootings, and eventually earned the nickname “School Shooter” on an online platform.
The report said a “vague idea” for a school shooting took root in late 2021 and intensified after the shooter’s fall out with his mother in early 2022.
Several members of the family knew that he had been separated from his mother and had sought help buying guns, the so-called “purchase of straw” which would have been illegal. He refused but later learned that in the week between his 18th birthday and the May 24 attack, he had legally bought firearms and that his grandparents insisted that he be evicted from their home.
In an online conversation dated May 14, he simply wrote, “10 more days.”
“Prior to the shooting, the attacker had no criminal history and was never arrested. He is not known to endorse any ideology or any kind of political views. Private individuals alone knew many of the warning signs,” the report said.
While most of the investigation initially focused on local and state law enforcement agencies, the report said there were 149 officers in the US Border Patrol who responded to the scene – the most of any agency so far.
And when the Border Patrol’s tactical unit led the final breach of the orbit to take down the gunman, the report said Border Patrol officers were among those waiting to act.
The report said the commander of the Border Patrol Tactical Team waited for the bulletproof shield and working master key for the classrooms door, which may not have even been needed, before entering and killing the attacker.
The committee was told that none of the Border Patrol agents involved in opening the classroom door were wearing active body cameras. The investigative committee spoke to Acting Commander Paul Guerrero of the tactical team, but no public testimony at Texas House and Senate hearings last month included the Border Patrol.
More on the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas: https://apnews.com/hub/school-shootings
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