‘Furious and saddened’: Lawmakers react to DOJ report on botched response to Uvalde school shooting

SAN ANTONIO – The Department of Justice on Thursday released a nearly 600-page report on law enforcement’s response to the Uvalde massacre that killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

The report states that on May 24, 2022, there was a lack of leadership, communication and accurate updates during the active shooting, in which a former Uvalde CISD student entered classrooms 111 and 112 and remained for 77 minutes.

The report includes a series of comments by terrified children taken from a 911 call, including: “Help!” “Help!” “Help!” “I don’t want to die. My teacher is dead.”

By that point, the students and their teachers had been trapped in classrooms with the shooter for 37 minutes, and the 911 call lasted for 27 minutes. Even though law enforcement officials were in the hallway and just outside the classrooms, it would be another 13 minutes after the call ended before the survivors were rescued.

The Critical Incident Review team reviewed more than 14,100 pieces of evidence, including training logs and video footage, and interviewed more than 260 people from more than 30 different organizations. The team visited Uvalde nine times and spent 54 days on-site.

“The victims and survivors of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School deserved better,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement. “The law enforcement response at Robb Elementary on May 24, 2022 — and the response by officials in the hours and days after — was a failure.”

Families were able to review the report on Wednesday evening before it was released to news organizations and before Garland held a news conference in Uvalde.

Garland and other state lawmakers have since released the following statements.

“The victims and survivors of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School deserved better,” said Attorney General Garland. “The law enforcement response at Robb Elementary on May 24th, 2022 — and the response by officials in the hours and days after — was a failure. As a consequence of failed leadership, training, and policies, 33 students and three of their teachers — many of whom had been shot — were trapped in a room with an active shooter for over an hour as law enforcement officials remained outside. We hope to honor the victims and survivors by working together to try to prevent anything like this from happening again, here or anywhere.”

“Uvalde is a community that is healing, and getting clear on the facts is part of healing,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta. “As I made clear last April when I came to Uvalde to meet with families and reiterated to them last night, we promised that our report would honor the victims and survivors; provide a detailed, independent, and authoritative accounting of the events; and would not only look backward but would also identify lessons learned and recommendations for other communities to prevent something like this from happening again.”

“The observations and recommendations in this report are based on national standards, generally accepted standards and practices, current research, and the expectations of communities,” said Director Hugh T. Clements, Jr. of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office). “Reports like this are critical to law enforcement and, by extension, to the community. As agencies constantly strive to do better and be more fully prepared, detailed observations and recommendations like those within this report are invaluable to agencies planning for the future.”

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland

U.S. Rep. Colin Allred released the following statement:

”As a dad, I cannot imagine the deep grief, heartbreak, and frustration these families are feeling. On that dark day, law enforcement failed to protect the vulnerable children at Robb Elementary. I join my fellow Texans today in mourning and demanding justice and accountability.”

U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas

U.S. Joaquin Castro released the following statement

“My heart is with the families in Uvalde as they relive the worst days of their lives. Nearly two years after the massacre, the anguish and pain at Robb Elementary School is impossible to forget. As a father of three kids – two in elementary school – I’m furious and saddened by the ways that Uvalde’s grieving families have been victimized, first by a preventable shooting, and then by Governor Abbott, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw, and other public officials in Texas who hid the truth about Uvalde and lied to cover up their failures.

“In the aftermath of the massacre at Robb Elementary School, Uvalde families have continuously pressed lawmakers to pass common-sense gun laws that could prevent mass shootings. The 2022 passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was a good step forward, but we need universal background checks and a ban on assault rifles to save lives. Uvalde was every parent’s worst nightmare, and it’s hard to believe that national and state policy changed so little in response.

“I hope the Department of Justice’s Critical Incident Review will provide transparency and accountability in Uvalde and a roadmap to protect America’s children. Uvalde families deserve nothing less than the truth.”

U.S. Rep Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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