A preliminary report released Sunday by a Texas House of Representatives committee of inquiry found “systemic failures and blatantly poor decision-making” by law enforcement officers and the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District in the wake of the May 24 mass shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers died at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
The 77-page report specifies that no one other than the shooter is responsible for the shooting.
“There is no one to whom we can ascribe malice or evil motives. Instead, we found system errors and extremely poor decision-making,” the report notes.
While 376 officers arrived on the scene, a lack of clear leadership and direction contributed to the officers’ “overall listless approach,” the report found.
Many responding officers “received and relied on inaccurate information,” and others “had enough information to know better,” the report concludes.
“The scene was chaotic, with no one clearly in charge or directing law enforcement’s response,” the report notes.
When the gunman first arrived at the scene, there was no law enforcement officer on campus, according to the report. A coach at the school, Yvette Silva, “acted heroically and almost certainly saved lives by warning the school of the attacker’s advance,” notes the report, adding that “most fourth-grade classes were successfully completed. shut down due to her quick response.”
When officers arrived on the scene, the report said, their response quickly broke down.
Officers who first arrived on the scene about three minutes after the gunman entered the school “behaved properly by trying to break through the classrooms and stop the attacker,” the report said. At the time, controversial police chief Pete Arredondo – a key focus of the report – was “actively involved in the effort to ‘stop the killing,'” the report said.
But after the gunner returned fire on the officers, they “lost critical momentum by treating the scenario as a “barricaded subject” rather than with the greater urgency associated with an “active gunner” scenario.”
Arredondo also did not take on what is characterized in the report as “his pre-assigned responsibility for the incident command,” which he should have informed the other officers that he was in charge and left the building to set up a command post for to set up incidents. Instead, he remained in the hallway, unable to communicate with other law enforcement officers and “execute effective staging or command and control over the situation,” the report said. He was also unaware of the 911 calls coming from the classroom “because he had not found a reliable method of receiving critical information from outside the building,” the report said.
“Even if he had been given information about surviving injured victims in the classrooms, it is unclear whether he would have done anything else to act ‘more urgently’,” Arredondo’s report adds.
Arredondo, who is on administrative leave from his role as police chief and resigned from his seat on Uvalde City Council a month after being sworn in, in the wake of widespread criticism of his response on the ground, earlier told the Texas Tribune he never thought of himself as the incident commander and instead acted as a first-line responder.
The officers’ positions were also not tactically coordinated within the school, the report found.
As Arredondo and other officers gathered on the south side of the building, focused on entering the classrooms where the gunman was located and securing protective equipment for the officers, dozens of other officers lined the hallway on the north side of the building” piling up for an attack on the classrooms, and usually waiting for further instructions pending the arrival of protective equipment and crushing equipment,” the report states.
The report also blames other law enforcement officers for the failure in police response.
According to the report, other officers on the scene should have acknowledged “obvious deficiencies in command and control” and should have approached Arredondo or other officers around him to assist with the incident warrant.
Officers also assumed the class doors were locked without seeing if that was true, according to the report, noting that the door to room 111, one of the two in which the gunman was operating, “probably wasn’t.” was effectively locked.”
When the United States Border Patrol Tactical Unit, known as BORTAC, arrived on the scene, Arredondo did not send them nor ask for instructions, according to the report. BORTAC Acting Commander Paul Guerrero waited to attempt to enter the classrooms until he obtained a working master key and put a rifle-rated shield in place.
The report concludes that “it is plausible that some victims could have survived had they not had to wait an additional 73 minutes for rescue”, but notes that most victims probably died immediately after being shot and that the commission had “no medical evidence.” to make a definitive judgment as to whether a quicker response from agents on the ground could have saved lives.
The report also blamed the school’s infrastructure for communications outages, noting that no one used the school’s intercom to announce the lockdown and that poor Wi-Fi likely delayed an alert that went to teachers.
Relatives of the victims received the report on Sunday and officials are expected to hold a news conference Sunday afternoon to discuss the findings. Printed copies of the report were hand-delivered to Uvalde and Texas officials Saturday night in an effort to prevent the report from being leaked to the media before family members had a chance to review it. CNN reported:.
The report notes that the commission’s investigation into the shooting is still ongoing, but it “believes that this interim report provides the most complete information about the events of and leading up to the May 24 tragedy.” 2022.”
“We do not have access to all material witnesses. Medical investigators have not yet released any reports on their findings and several other investigations are ongoing,” the report said.
The report excludes both the gunman’s name and image “so as not to glorify him,” it notes. The commission dedicates the report to the victims.
“This report is intended to honor them,” it reads.
This is a story in development. Come back for updates.