Nearly 400 Officers Responded to Uvalde Shooting, Says New Report

The first in-depth assessment of law enforcement's response to the mass shooting shows hundreds of officers were on the scene, yet did not act.

Nearly 400 Officers Responded to Uvalde Shooting, Says New Report
Photo:Eric Gay (AP)

A new 77-page report conducted by a special Texas House committee—the first comprehensive assessment of law enforcement’s response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas—confirms a lack of action on the part of the school police chief, Pete Arredondo, and the hundreds of federal and local officers who were called to the scene.

Published Sunday, the committee report made plain the number of “systemic failures” that resulted in the murder of 19 children and two teachers. According to the findings, nearly 400 members of law enforcement gathered at the school on May 24, yet it was only a small group of officers, which included Border Patrol agents and a deputy sheriff from a nearby county, who ultimately confronted the shooter after 77 minutes. These recent findings support video footage of the shooting published by the Austin American Statesman, wherein scores of officers can be seen loitering in a hallway for over an hour as the gunman fired several rounds.

“If there’s only one thing that I can tell you is, there were multiple systemic failures,” Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-TX), who called for the investigation, told the press at a news conference on Sunday. “Several officers in the hallway or in that building knew or should have known there was dying in that classroom, and they should have done more, acted with urgency.”

Devastatingly, the assessment also concluded that a lack of action on the part of officers was not their only shortfall—there was also an overall deficiency in communication. During the active shooting, Arredondo and other officers were alerted that a child was calling 911 from a classroom and that one teacher was still alive. However, even those developments did not increase the urgency of their response or shift their strategy in any way. Additionally, officers’ search for a key to the unlocked classroom wherein the shooter barricaded himself was not only an unnecessary delay, but it was also unaided by the school administration. Neither Arredondo nor his fellow officers called the principal of Robb Elementary, who had a key for the door.

A footnote included in the report indicated that “it is plausible that some victims could have survived if they had not had to wait” for rescue.

The assessment presents a starkly different portrait of the shooting than the one Uvalde officials put forth to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) just days after the shooting. According to the New York Times, the city attorney gave the department a document labeled “narrative” during a closed-door meeting that contradicted many of the details of the new investigation and video footage and was rife with inaccuracies. One section of the document referred to the School District police force and the Uvalde Police Department officers as “heroes,” and another lauded them for acting with “zero hesitation.” In addition to the city attorney and Texas DPS, the meeting’s attendees included Gov. Greg Abbott’s chief of staff and general counsel, Mayor Don McLaughlin, County Judge Bill Mitchell, District Attorney Christina Busbee, and state police officials. The Times reported that the Director of Texas DPS, Steve McGraw, and Busbee disagreed with the “narrative.”

As of now, Arredondo has been placed on administrative leave, and there have been no formal charges brought down on any law enforcement entity involved in the shooting.

This “narrative” is just one of many peddled by police in a string of mass shootings this summer. In another shooting that took place over the weekend in Indiana, local police praised a “good samaritan” who took down the shooter with his own firearm. It should go without saying that law enforcement—and law enforcement, alone—willingly pursued an occupation that entails apprehending a shooter. If Americans are to rely on “good samaritan” vigilantism in mass shootings, what is the point of law enforcement, when their ineptitude in one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history cost 19 children and 2 adults their lives?

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