SAN ANTONIO – Weeks following the deadly mass shooting at a Uvalde elementary school, investigators continue to unpack the events of that tragic day.
Leaders are taking steps to prevent an incident like that from happening again. In Bexar County, it means deputies are getting more tools.
“I’m really, kind of, disturbed by it,” said Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar.
As questions swirl about what police did or didn’t do while the gunman was at Robb Elementary on May 24th, firing at innocent children and teachers, Sheriff Salazar is clear on what his deputies need to do, should they encounter an active shooter.
“We don’t wait for SWAT. We train in how to respond and how to get in there,” he said.
“I want to remove any doubt from the minds of my deputies on what’s expected of them. Get in there and the threat, stop the killing, stop the dying,” added Salazar.
Since the shooting that claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers, the sheriff also made a decision. Now, Bexar County deputies will be required to carry ballistic shields, battering rams and sledgehammers in their vehicles.
“In an active shooter situation when seconds count…bullets are still flying. There’s still smoke in the air when the first responders arrive. Those first responders [are] usually patrol deputies. And so, we’re now putting tools in the hands of our patrol deputies that are typically seen deployed with the SWAT team.”
We’re told only some deputies have that equipment. The sheriff’s goal is to have every single patrol deputy carrying those weapons in their vehicles every day.
Currently, the sheriff is fighting for a so-called red flag law in Texas. Nineteen states and Washington, D.C. have measures that allow for people who are considered a threat to temporarily have their firearms taken away. Texas is not in that group.
“I’m not asking for the right, as a law enforcement officer, to go knocking door to door, seizing guns from people with no probable cause. I’m saying that if we, if we pass this, we should be able to…as law enforcement or family members…petition to a judge to have a warrant [and] examine [whether we should] take somebody’s weapons.”
In Austin, numerous attempts over the years to pass red flag laws fell flat. The measure has encountered a similar fate in Washington, D.C. But now, the Senate is working on a bipartisan bill aimed at making mass shootings less likely. Sheriff Salazar said those in favor of tougher gun laws should continue to fight.
“We can keep demanding it and making noise until it becomes so uncomfortable and unpalatable for those politicians…to continue to turn a blind eye to it.”