(The Center Square) – A long-awaited report from U.S. Department of Justice released Thursday found widespread problems with law enforcement officers’ response to the mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
A gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, 2022. The Justice Department report provided the most thorough examination yet as to what happened inside the school.
The 610-page report details the multiple failures in the response to the shooting, including the breakdowns in leadership, decision-making, tactics, policy and training that contributed to those failures. While some of the first officers on the scene initially tried to engage the gunman, they retreated after being met with gunfire. After that, the law enforcement responders began treating the incident as a barricaded subject scenario rather than as an active shooter situation.
A tactical team finally went into the classroom to engage the gunman, Salvador Ramos, 77 minutes after police arrived on the scene. Police killed Ramos.
“As a consequence of failed leadership, training, and policies, 33 students and three of their teachers – many of whom had been shot – were trapped in a room with an active shooter for over an hour as law enforcement officials remained outside,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said. “We hope to honor the victims and survivors by working together to try to prevent anything like this from happening again, here or anywhere.”
In response to the DOJ’s findings, Gov. Greg Abbott said, “Following the horrific tragedy at Robb Elementary School, Texas took swift action to bolster security in our schools and in our communities, and I thank the U.S. Department of Justice for their critical incident review of the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School. The State of Texas has already adopted and implemented some of the recommendations proposed by the DOJ in this review. We will continue to evaluate all possible means of making our schools safer, and we will carefully review all other recommendations the Department has offered to prevent future tragedies across our state.”
Two months after the shooting, in July 2022, the Texas House of Representatives Investigative Committee issued an 82-page report finding failures existed across the board. They included failures by the school, school district, and law enforcement before and on May 24, when the shooting occurred, The Center Square reported.
“There is no one to whom we can attribute malice or ill motives. Instead, we found systemic failures and egregious poor decision making,” the committee found. Since then, the Texas Legislature and Gov. Abbott implemented a range of safety measures, including allocating over $105 million for additional school safety and mental health initiatives, allowing for more armed guards in schools, implementing a multi-hazard emergency operations plan, and creating new mandates and rules to ensure they are enforced.
Many credit Spring Branch ISD’s implementation of enhanced safety measures, in compliance with the new laws, for preventing what could have been a deadly school shooting at an elementary school last November in Houston. The only fatality that occurred was that of the perpetrator who was shot dead by SBISD police.