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Deadly school shooting in Uvalde is “Cascading failures of leadership”



The Justice Department issued a strongly-worded report on Thursday, criticizing the law enforcement response to the 2022 mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, deeming it a “failure.”

The report identified numerous issues that allowed the attack to persist, even with a significant number of police officers present.

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin initiated the “critical incident review” in late May 2022, shortly after the shooting claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers.

The review aimed to provide an impartial account of law enforcement actions, offering insights and lessons for future responses to active shooter events.

The report presents a federal overview of the events at Robb Elementary School, which shocked both the nation and the still-recovering Uvalde community.

The 575-page report declares, “The response to the mass casualty incident at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022, was a failure.”

The analysis delved into what it termed “cascading failures of leadership, decision-making, tactics, policy, and training,” leading to breakdowns throughout all phases of the response to the shooting.

The report also pointed out deficiencies in “leadership, command, and coordination.” The Justice Department discovered that 11 officers from the school district and Uvalde Police Department reached the school within three minutes of the shooter’s arrival, heading to a classroom upon hearing gunfire.

However, some officers retreated for cover after being hit by shrapnel from the gunman’s high-powered AR-15 rifle. The report revealed that it took another hour before police attempted to breach the classroom door once more.

The report indicates a considerable amount of confusion, miscommunication, and a lack of urgency, as well as a deficiency in incident command. Despite the presence of an “overwhelming number of law enforcement” from various agencies at the school, accurate updates and clear directives for response efforts were not provided due to the absence of established command and control, as revealed by the review.

The time between law enforcement’s initial arrival at the scene and the confrontation with and killing of the suspect was 77 minutes. The incident was categorized not as an active shooter situation but as a “barricaded subject scenario,” a classification deemed inappropriate by the review. It emphasized that treating an “active shooter with access to victims” as a barricaded subject should “never” occur, with “never” emphasized in italics.

The most significant failure identified was that responding officers should have promptly recognized the incident as an active shooter situation. The review stressed that since the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Colorado, a “fundamental precept” in active shooter response is to prioritize the immediate neutralization of the suspect, with officer safety considered secondary to that objective.

The Justice Department’s findings emphasize the necessity of taking certain actions, regardless of the available equipment and personnel at the initial scene, which, regrettably, did not occur during the Robb Elementary shooting response.

The review, pointing to a lack of urgency in entering the classrooms at Robb Elementary School, noted that many officers arriving on the scene incorrectly believed the gunman had already been killed or that Pete Arredondo, the former police chief of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, was inside the room with the suspect.

The Justice Department identified Arredondo as the “de-facto on-scene commander” but mentioned that he discarded his radios upon arrival, deeming them unnecessary. Arredondo, who was terminated due to allegations of numerous critical errors during the shooting, bears a significant portion of the responsibility for the response, according to the report.

This is a developing story that will be updated when more information is available.