‘Cascading failures’ in police response to Uvalde shooting: DOJ report

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A new Department of Justice report released Thursday tore into law enforcement’s failed response to the May 24, 2022, elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

The massacre at Robb Elementary School resulted in the murder of 19 children and two staff members, the deadliest shooting in Texas history. The gunman was eventually killed by Border Patrol 77 minutes after police initially arrived on the scene.

The DOJ’s over 600-page report found that police officers took far too long to confront the gunman, ultimately leading to the loss of more innocent lives.

“[T]he [Critical Incident Review] team identified several critical failures and other breakdowns prior to, during, and after the Robb Elementary School response and analyzed the cascading failures of leadership, decision-making, tactics, policy, and training that contributed to those failures and breakdowns,” the report stated.

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“Leadership from [Uvalde Police Departments], [Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Department], [Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office], and [Texas Department of Public Safety] demonstrated no urgency for establishing a command and control structure, which led to challenges related to information sharing, lack of situational statuses, and limited-to-no direction for personnel in the hallway or on the perimeter,” the report’s observations noted.

According to the DOJ’s report, arriving officers incorrectly believed that the gunman had either already been killed or that UCISD PD Chief Arredondo was with the shooter. It noted that officers treated the incident as a “barricade situation,” resulting in significant delays.

“Law enforcement personnel displayed a general lack of urgency and inaction toward penetrating classrooms 111 and 112, with some trying to evacuate the children and staff from other classrooms, others trying to find keys and access equipment, and still others on the phone with superiors or other law enforcement personnel not on the scene,” the report read.

Arredondo ordered officers not to enter the classrooms where the gunman was located and instead instructed them to remove children and staff from nearby classrooms first “to prevent further injury.”

As part of the report’s selected recommendations, it stated that “an active shooter with access to victims should never be considered and treated as a barricaded subject.”

Following the failed response, five officers, including Arredondo and two DPS officers, lost their jobs.

Attorney General Merrick Garland stated regarding the report’s release, “I told the families gathered last night what I hope is clear among the hundreds of pages and thousands of details in this report: Their loved ones deserve better.”

An 80-page investigative report by Texas lawmakers, released in 2022, found that the nearly 400 law enforcement officers who arrived on the scene demonstrated “egregiously poor decision-making” and “failed to prioritize saving innocent lives over their own safety,” the Associated Press reported.

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