Uvalde: Report finds 'systemic failures' by Texas police
Texas, Jul 18: Around 400 law enforcement officials rushed to a mass shooting at a Uvalde elementary school in Texas, but "systemic failures" caused them to wait for over an hour before confronting and killing the gunman who took 21 lives, revealed a report from investigators released on Sunday.
The massacre took place on May 24 at Robb Elementary School in the South Texas town.
The nearly 80-page report, produced following an investigation by the Texas House of Representatives committee, marked the most exhaustive attempt so far to find out the reasons behind the delayed response of heavily armed officers as an 18-year-old gunman fired inside a fourth-grade classroom.
Report slams poor decision-making and void of leadership
Seventy-three minutes elapsed between the first officers' arrival and the shooter's death, an "unacceptably long period of time," according to the report.
"It is plausible that some victims could have survived if they had not had to wait 73 additional minutes for rescue," the report said.
"Other than the attacker, the Committee did not find any 'villains' in the course of its investigation,'' it added.
"There is no one to whom we can attribute malice or ill motives. Instead, we found systemic failures and egregiously poor decision making."
"The void of leadership could have contributed to the loss of life as injured victims waited over an hour for help, and the attacker continued to sporadically fire his weapon," the report underlined.
'An overall lackadaisical approach'
The report was the first to criticize both state and federal law enforcement, and not just local authorities for the hesitant and haphazard response.
"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.
It said that 376 law enforcement officers rushed to the school, the majority of them from federal and state law enforcement. That included nearly 150 US Border Patrol agents and 91 state police officials. They were better trained and equipped than the school district police.
But no one assumed command, the report noted.
It described "shortcomings and failures of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District and of various agencies and officers of law enforcement" and "an overall lackadaisical approach" by the authorities.
How did family members react to the report?
After the release of the report, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said the city's acting police chief on the day of the massacre, Lt. Mariano Pargas, had been placed on administrative leave to determine whether he was responsible for taking command after the gunman entered the school.
Family members of the victims in Uvalde received copies of the report Sunday before it was released to the public.
"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 Salazer, told the Associated Press on Sunday.
The report followed weeks of closed-door interviews with over 40 people, including witnesses and law enforcement officials who were at the scene of the shooting.