Update 6:55 p.m.: Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said Sunday afternoon that the acting police chief on the day of the Robb Elementary School massacre had been placed on leave. The move came shortly after a state legislative committee report found fault from top to bottom leading up to and during the May 24 shooting, the Associated Press said.
BREAKING: The mayor of Uvalde says the city’s acting police chief on the day of the school massacre has been placed on leave to determine whether he was responsible for taking command, after a new report found wide failures by law enforcement. https://t.co/yGXFr8Ughm
— The Associated Press (@AP) July 17, 2022
A special three-member Texas legislative committee has released its comprehensive report on the Uvalde school shooting, and it blames “systemic failures and egregious poor decision making” by everyone from school officials to top law enforcement officials for turning the attack into the state’s worst school massacre in history.
The House Investigative Committee on the Robb Elementary Shooting interviewed 33 witnesses behind closed doors and conducted another 39 informal interviews before releasing its 77-page report — ironically one page for every minute law enforcement waited in a school hallway before confronting the 18-year-old shooter who killed 19 fourth-graders and two teachers on May 24.
According to the Austin American-Statesman, the committee shared the report with the families of the victims on Sunday before releasing it to the public and also showed them their version of the video taken in the hallway outside classrooms 111 and 112, where Salvador Ramos opened fire.
The report cited “a regrettable culture of noncompliance by school personnel” who regularly skirted the edges of security policies by circumventing locks and propping open doors — or, as in the case of the door on classroom 111, failing to order a repair for a faulty lock.
As for law enforcement officers, the report says “They failed to prioritize saving the lives of innocent victims over their own safety.”
The reported noted the school district’s active shooter plan, which called on school district Police Chief Pete Arredondo to take charge, but “he failed to perform or to transfer to another person the role of incident commander.”
Arredondo, who denied he was the incident commander, has been put on leave until investigations are complete.
“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 said.
Arredondo’s hunt for a key to the classrooms — which may not have been locked — “consumed his attention and wasted precious time, delaying the breach of the classrooms.”
But the report didn’t blame Arredondo only.
“Hundreds of responders from numerous law enforcement agencies — many of whom were better trained and better equipped than the school district police — quickly arrived on the scene” and could have “helped to address the unfolding chaos,” it said, without addressing chain of command issues.
“In this sense,” the report said, “the entirety of law enforcement and its training, preparation, and response shares systemic responsibility for many missed opportunities on that tragic day.”
The report also cautioned that Uvalde is not alone in these type of systemic problems.
“We acknowledge that the same shortcomings could be found throughout the State of Texas,” it said. “We must not delude ourselves into a false sense of security by believing that ‘this would not happen where we live.’ The people of Uvalde undoubtedly felt the same way.”
At least two more reports on the response to the shooting are due, one by the Texas Department of Public Safety and another from the US Department of Justice, the Associated Press said. A report compiled at the request of DPS and released earlier this month by tactical experts at Texas State University said that a Uvalde police officer had a chance to stop the gunman before he entered the school, but Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, who has accused state officials of trying to cover up their own failures, said that no Uvalde officers had any such opportunity.
For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast.