A damning new report into the Uvalde school massacre has condemned the almost 400 law enforcement officers who arrived for “failing to prioritise innocent victims’ safety over their own”.
High school dropout Salvador Ramos killed 21 people, including 19 children, at Robb Elementary School in Texas on 24 May.
A 77-page report was released on Sunday detailing what happened, after complaints that it had taken more than an hour to bring down 18-year-old Ramos.
It showed blame rested on almost every agency who attended, highlighting “systemic failures” and “ultimately poor decision-making” from officers both inside and outside the school.
There was no overall command, “chaos,” and a lack of unity in decision-making.
And it also singled out the school for errors – saying security doors weren’t properly locked and some “active shooter” protocols weren’t followed.
There was a general “lackadaisical approach”, it said, adding: “At Robb Elementary, law enforcement responders failed to adhere to their active shooter training, and they failed to prioritise saving the lives of innocent victims over their own safety.”
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But it also went on to say there were no individual “villains”.
“Other than the attacker, the committee did not find any ‘villains” in the course of its investigation,” it said.
“There is no one to whom we can attribute malice or ill motives. Instead, we found systemic failures and egregiously poor decision making.”
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Texas State House Investigative Committee chairman Dustin Burrows said: “If we need a simple phrase to summarise this report it is ‘multiple systemic failures’.”
Discussing the actions of law enforcement, he added: “They should have tried door handles, gone through the windows, tried to distract him, tried to do something.”
“Everyone talked about this being chaotic. Inside the school there should have been a tactical commander but there should also have been an overall commander outside the building.
“There was a lack of overall effective command on that day.”
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The report was written after a Texas House investigative committee had been asked to look into the incident.
It is the first to criticise both state and federal law enforcement, and not just local authorities in Uvalde, for the inaction at the school.
Around 40 people testified behind closed doors, including members of the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District police chief and officers, the district superintendent, the school’s principal, a teacher and custodial staff.
For the first time, it detailed how many officers were on site by the end of the shooting – 376.
This included 149 border patrol agents, 91 state troopers, 25 Uvalde police offices, and a number of US Marshals and Drug Enforcement Agency staff.
Calls for accountability
The report is the result of one of several investigations into the shooting, including another led by the Justice Department.
Another earlier this month, by tactical experts at Texas State University, alleged an Uvalde police officer had a chance to stop the gunman before he went inside the school armed with an AR-15.
But in an example of the conflicting statements and disputed accounts since the shooting, Uvalde mayor Don McLaughlin has said that never happened.
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A nearly 80-minute hallway surveillance video published by the Austin American-Statesman this week publicly showed for the first time a hesitant and haphazard tactical response, which the head of Texas’ state police has condemned as a failure and some Uvalde residents have labelled cowardly.
Calls for police accountability have grown in the small town since the shooting. So far, only one officer from the scene of the deadliest school shooting in Texas history is known to be on leave.
A teacher who survived the school shooting has said he will never forgive the police for taking over an hour to enter his classroom after the gunman first opened fire.