Blistering report finds “systemic failures” by authorities in the wake of Uvalde school shooting
A preliminary report released Sunday by a Texas House of Representatives Committee of Inquiry found “systematic failures and grossly poor decision making” by law enforcement and the Uvald Unified School District in the wake of the May 24 mass shooting that killed 19 schoolchildren and teachers Robb Elementary in Ovaldi, Texas.
The 77-page report specifies that other than the gunman, no one else is responsible for the shooting.
“There is no one to whom we can attribute malice or bad motives. Instead, we have found systemic failures and grossly bad decision-making,” the report notes.
While 376 officers responded to the scene, a lack of clear leadership and direction contributed to the officers’ “generally unbiased approach,” the report found.
The report concludes that many of the responding officers “were given inaccurate information and relied on it,” and others had “sufficient information to know better.”
“The scene was chaotic, with no one clearly responsible or directing the response of law enforcement,” the report notes.
When the gunman first arrived on the scene, there was no law enforcement officer on campus, according to the report. The report notes that the school’s coach, Yvette Silva, “acted heroically and almost certainly saved lives by alerting the school to the attacker’s advance,” adding that “most fourth grade classes were successfully closed as a result of her quick response.”
The report notes that when the officers arrived at the scene, their response quickly collapsed.
The report stated that the officers, who first arrived at the scene about three minutes after the gunman entered the school, “acted appropriately by attempting to penetrate the classrooms and stop the attacker.” At that point, the embattled Chief of Police Pete Arredondo – who is the main focus of the report – was “actively involved in efforts to ‘stop the killing’,” the report states.
But after the gunman responded by shooting the officers, they “lost critical momentum by treating the scenario as a ‘fortified subject’ rather than the greater urgency associated with the ‘active shooter’ scenario.”
Arredondo also failed to assume what the report describes as his “pre-assigned responsibility to command the incident,” which would have required telling other officers he was responsible and leaving the building to establish the incident command post. Instead, he remained in the hallway and, in doing so, was unable to communicate with other law enforcement officers and “effectively implement staging or command and control of the situation,” according to the report. He was also unaware of 911 calls coming from inside the classroom “because of his failure to establish a reliable method for receiving critical information from outside the building,” according to the report.
The report on Arredondo adds: “Even if he had received information on injured victims alive in the classroom, it is unclear that he would have done anything differently to act ‘urgently’.”
Arredondo, who is it On administrative leave From his role as chief of police and Resigned from his seat on Ovaldi City Council a month after he was sworn in following widespread criticism over his reaction at the scene, previously Tell the Texas Tribune He did not consider himself the incident commander and instead served as a frontline responder.
The report also concluded that the officers’ positions were not tactically coordinated within the school.
While Arredondo and other officers were huddled around the south end of the building, and focused on entering the classrooms the gunman was in and securing the officers’ protective gear, dozens of other officers were in the hallway on the north side of the building “stacked for an assault on the classrooms, mostly waiting More instructions until the arrival of protective equipment and hacking equipment,” the report said.
The report also blames other law enforcement officers for the delay in police response.
According to the report, other officers on the scene had to identify “obvious command and control deficiencies” and approached Arredondo or other officers around him to provide assistance in spearheading the incident.
The officers also assumed that the class doors were locked without knowing if that was true, according to the report, which notes that the door to Room 111, one of the two doors the shooter was active in, “may not have been effectively locked.”
When a US Border Patrol tactical unit, known as BORTAC, arrived on the scene, Arredondo did not direct them, nor did they ask him for instructions, according to the report. Acting BORTAC Commander Paul Guerrero waited trying to enter the classrooms until he got a master key to work and put a rifle-rated shield in place.
The report concludes that “it is plausible that some of the victims could have survived if they had not had to wait an additional 73 minutes to be rescued”, but notes that most victims may have died immediately after being shot and that the commission “did not receive medical treatment and evidence” to make a verdict. Final on whether a quick response from officers at the scene could save lives.
The report also blames the school’s infrastructure for the communication failure, noting that no one used the school’s intercom to report the closure and poor wi-fi likely delayed teachers’ alerts.
Family members of the victims received the report on Sunday, and officials are expected to hold a press conference to discuss its findings on Sunday afternoon. Hard copies of the report were handed over to Uvald and Texas officials Saturday evening in an effort to prevent the report from leaking to the media before family members had a chance to review it, CNN reported.
The report notes that the commission’s investigation into the shooting incident is still ongoing, but it “believes that this interim report constitutes the most complete account to date of the events of the May 24, 2022 tragedy that led to its occurrence.”
“We do not have access to all material witnesses. The medical examiners have not yet released any reports on their findings, and multiple other investigations are still ongoing,” the report read.
The report indicated that the name and photo of the gunman were excluded “so that he would not glorify him.” The committee dedicates the report to the victims.
“This report aims to honor them,” the report said.
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