English 

Texas State Police are launching an internal review of Uvalde’s response

National

“You have 91 soldiers on site. You’ve got all the gear you could want and you’re listening to the local school cop?”

Families of shooting victims listen as the Texas House Investigative Committee releases its full report on the shooting at Robb Elementary School, Sunday, July 17, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. AP Photo/Eric Gay

UVALDE, Texas (AP) — Two months after the Uvalde school massacre, Texas State Police on Monday released an internal review of the actions of dozens of officers who were at Robb Elementary School during 73 minutes of baffling police inaction as a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers.

The announcement appeared to widen the fallout from a damning 80-page report released by the Texas House over the weekend that found lapses at all levels of law enforcement and identified 91 state troopers at the scene — more than all Uvalde police officers combined. It also represented a public shift by the Texas Department of Public Safety, which until now had mostly criticized local authorities for not confronting the gunman sooner.

A report released Sunday revealed for the first time how many state police and US Border Patrol agents were on the scene during one of the worst school shootings in US history.

“You have 91 soldiers on site. You have all the equipment you could want and you’re listening to the local school police officer?” said state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat whose district includes Uvalde and who accused DPS of trying to minimize its role in the response.

The revelations that Border Patrol agents and state troopers made up more than half of the 376 law enforcement officers who rushed to a South Texas school on May 24 spread the blame for the slow and botched response far wider than previous reports that highlighted mistakes by Uvalde police officers. .

The report made clear that “grossly poor decision-making” by authorities overwhelmed local law enforcement in Uvalde, who were eventually outnumbered more than 5 to 1 by state and federal officers at the scene. Other local police from the area around Uvalda also responded to the shooting.

The report puts a new spotlight on the roles of state and federal agencies whose leaders, unlike local governments, did not have to sit through meetings where they faced angry parents of dead children.

Of the nearly 400 police officers who gathered at the school, only two are currently known to be on leave pending an investigation into their actions: Pete Arredondo, the Uvalda Consolidated School District police chief, and Lt. Mariano Pargas, an acting Uvalda police officer. chief of the city police during the massacre.

State police previously said no officers at the scene were suspended. On Monday, Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the report’s findings were “beyond disturbing,” but did not single out any agencies.

Texas DPS has not set a timeline for when the review will be completed. It said the actions of every trooper, state police agent and Texas Ranger at the scene will be investigated “to determine if any violations of policy, law or doctrine occurred.”

Col. Steve McCraw, director of Texas DPS, previously placed much of the blame for the response on Arredondo, identifying him as the incident commander and criticizing him for treating the classroom gunman as a barricaded subject rather than an active shooter.

The new report — the most comprehensive report yet on the tragedy — also says Arredondo wasted critical time during the shooting by looking for a classroom key and not dealing with the gunman more urgently. However, it was also emphasized that all law enforcement forces at the scene disrupted the response.

“There is no one to whom we can attribute malice or bad motives. Instead, we found systemic failures and extremely poor decision-making,” the report said.

Abbott said “critical changes are needed,” but the statement did not address whether any official or agency should be held accountable.

In Uvalde, city council and school board meetings in the eight weeks since the shooting have become a constant sight of locals shouting at elected leaders for police accountability, which has continued even after the report was released.

“It’s disgusting. It’s disgusting,” said Michael Brown, whose 9-year-old son was in the school cafeteria the day of the shooting and survived. “They’re cowards.”

According to the report, the gunman fired approximately 142 rounds inside the school — and it’s “almost certain” that at least 100 shots came before any officers entered, according to the commission, which cited numerous omissions.

Among them: No one took command despite scores of officers on the scene and no officer immediately tried to break into the classroom despite a dispatcher relaying a call to 911 that there were victims in the room.

The report also criticized the Border Patrol tactical team, saying it waited for an impenetrable shield and a working master key for the classroom door, which was most likely never locked, before entering. In all, the report put nearly 150 Border Patrol agents on the scene.

Cecilia Barreda, a spokeswoman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said Monday that a review of the agency’s response is still ongoing and has not reached any final conclusions.

Hours after the report was released, Uvalde officials separately released for the first time hours of body camera footage of city police officers who responded to the attack

One video from Uvalda Staff Sgt. Eduardo Canales, head of the city’s SWAT team, showed an officer approaching the classroom when gunfire rang out at 11:37 a.m.

A minute later, Canales said, “Dude, we have to go inside. We have to get in there, he just keeps shooting. We have to go inside.” Another policeman could be heard saying “DPS is sending their men”.

It was 72 minutes later, at 12:50 p.m., when the officers finally burst into the classroom and killed the shooter.

___

Weber reported from Austin, Texas.

Related posts

Leave a Comment