A damning report and hours of body camera footage further laid bare the chaotic response to a mass shooting at a Uvalde elementary school, where hundreds of law enforcement officers massed but then waited to confront the gunman even after a child trapped with the shooter called 911
A damning report and hours of body camera footage further laid bare the chaotic response to a mass shooting at a Uvalde elementary school, where hundreds of law enforcement officers massed but then waited to confront the gunman even after a child trapped with the shooter called 911, AP reports.
The findings of an investigative committee released Sunday were the first to criticize both state and federal law enforcement, and not just local authorities in the South Texas city for the bewildering inaction by heavily armed officers as a gunman fired inside two adjoining fourth-grade classrooms at Robb Elementary School, killing 19 students and two teachers.
Footage from city police officers’ body cameras made public hours later only further emphasized the failures — and fueled the anger and frustration of relatives of the victims.
“It’s disgusting. Disgusting,” said Michael Brown, whose 9-year-old son was in the school’s cafeteria on the day of the shooting and survived. “They’re cowards.”
Nearly 400 law enforcement officials rushed to the school, but “egregiously poor decision making” resulted in more than an hour of chaos before the gunman was finally confronted and killed, according to the report written by an investigative committee from the Texas House of Representatives.
Together, the report and more than three hours of newly released body camera footage from the May 24 tragedy amounted to the fullest account to date of one of the worst school shootings in U.S. history.
“At Robb Elementary, law enforcement responders failed to adhere to their active shooter training, and they failed to prioritize saving innocent lives over their own safety,” the report said.
The gunman fired approximately 142 rounds inside the building — and it is “almost certain” that at least 100 shots came before any officer entered, according to the report, which laid out numerous failures. Among them:
— No one assumed command despite scores of officers being on the scene.
— The commander of a Border Patrol tactical team waited for a bulletproof shield and working master key for a door to the classrooms that may have not even been needed, before entering.
— A Uvalde Police Department officer said he heard about 911 calls that had come from inside the rooms, and that his understanding was the officers on one side of the building knew there were victims trapped inside. Still, no one tried to breach the classroom.
The committee didn’t “receive medical evidence” to show that police storming the classrooms sooner would have saved lives, but it concluded that “it is plausible that some victims could have survived if they had not had to wait 73 additional minutes for rescue.”
The findings had at least one immediate effect: Lt. Mariano Pargas, a Uvalde Police Department officer who was the city’s acting police chief during the massacre, was placed on administrative leave.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said an investigation would be launched to determine whether Pargas should have taken command of the scene. He also disclosed for the first time that some officers had left the force since the shooting but did not provide an exact number, saying it was as many as three.
Hours after the report was released, Uvalde officials separately made public for the first time hours of body camera footage from the city’s police officers who responded to the attack. It included video of several officers reacting to word from a dispatcher, roughly 30 minutes after the shooting began, that a child in the room had called 911.
“The room is full of victims. Child 911 call,” an officer said.
Other body camera video from Uvalde Staff Sgt. Eduardo Canales, the head of the city’s SWAT team, showed the officer approaching the classrooms when gunfire rang out at 11:37 a.m.
A minute later, Canales said: “Dude, we’ve got to get in there. We’ve got to get in there, he just keeps shooting. We’ve got to get in there.” Another officer could be heard saying “DPS is sending their people.”
It was 72 minutes later, at 12:50 p.m., when officers finally breached the classrooms and kill the shooter.
Calls for police accountability have grown in Uvalde since the shooting.
“It’s a joke. They’re a joke. They’ve got no business wearing a badge. None of them do,” Vincent Salazar, grandfather of 11-year-old Layla Salazar, who was among those killed, said Sunday.
Anger flashed in Uvalde even over how the report was rolled out: Tina Quintanilla-Taylor, whose daughter survived the shooting, shouted at the three-member Texas House committee as they left a news conference after the findings were released.
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