Takeaways from scathing DOJ report on Uvalde school shooting

UVALDE – A major report released Thursday by the Department of Justice cited “cascading failures” by law enforcement in the handling of the shooting at Robb Elementary on May 24, 2022, in Uvalde that killed 19 students and two teachers.

In the 500+ page report, investigators identify several critical failures and other breakdowns prior to, during, and after the shooting. Keep reading for takeaways from the new report, which detailed the timeline of events as they unfolded.

KSAT will have continuing coverage on all platforms about the report and the families responses. The DOJ and families of victims have separate, back-to-back press conferences Thursday, which will be streamed and broadcast by KSAT 12.

‘Most significant failure’ in Uvalde massacre was ‘lack of urgency’ by law enforcement

The report said, “The most significant failure was that responding officers should have immediately recognized the incident as an active shooter situation, using the resources and equipment that were sufficient to push forward immediately and continuously toward the threat until entry was made into classrooms 111/112 and the threat was eliminated.”

Police officials who responded “demonstrated no urgency” in setting up a command post and failed to treat the killings as an active shooter situation.

Leadership on the scene failed on many levels

According to the report, Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo directed officers to focus on getting students out of other classrooms and did not confront the shooter after the first officers on the scene were fired upon by the gunman.

Arriving officers showed a “lack of urgency toward entering classrooms 111 and 112″ because they believed the gunman had either been killed or Arredondo was in the classroom with him.

The report noted that “leadership on scene, however, had not established command and control, to include an incident command post, staging area, or clear perimeter around the hallway of the school.” The report also said that the clear lack of communication between officers on the scene and the command structure made coordination efforts difficult.

Officers should have confronted the gunman much sooner

According to the Texas Tribune, the report “noted that since the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, American law enforcement officers have been trained to prioritize stopping the shooter while everything else, including officer safety, is secondary.”

“An active shooter with access to victims should never be considered and treated as a barricaded subject,” the report said, with the word “never” emphasized in italics.

The 376 officers at the scene included state police, Uvalde police, school officers and U.S. Border Patrol agents. A tactical team led by the Border Patrol eventually went into the classroom to take down the gunman.

Classroom door that law enforcement struggled with was likely unlocked

The classroom door that Arredondo spent a large chunk of time attempting to unlock was likely open the whole time, the DOJ report found.

At 12:21 p.m., 48 minutes after the gunman entered the school, he fired four additional shots inside classrooms 111/112.

Officers moved forward into formation outside the classroom doors but did not make entry.

Instead, presuming the classroom doors were locked, the officers tested a set of keys on the door of a janitor’s closet next to room 112. When the keys did not work, the responders began searching for additional keys and breaching tools.

Arredondo continued to attempt to communicate with the subject, while UPD Acting Chief Mariano Pargas continued to provide no direction, command, or control to personnel.

Proper medical protocols were not followed

“EMS staff were not the first to assess the situation in the classrooms and ensure the most appropriate use of critical resources. Deceased victims were moved out of the classrooms, left in or outside of the hallway, or transported to the hospital; at the same time, injured child victims were being tended to or put on school buses with injuries unknown to law enforcement,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta.

33 students, 3 teachers trapped with shooter for an hour due to ‘failed leadership, training, policies’

“The victims and survivors of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary deserved better,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a news release Thursday. “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 and prevent anything like this from happening again, here or anywhere.”

Inaccurate and inconsistent public communication fueled confusion

Multiple posts on social media from official sources like the school district and law enforcement that were incorrect and never corrected contributed to the poor response, the report said.

Some posts indicated that all students and staff were safe and others that the suspect was in custody.

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