Texas school shooting: 4 key takeaways from report on Uvalde shooting

UVALDE, Texas — A 77-page report released Sunday by an investigative committee with the Texas House of Representatives is the most detailed account of the May 24 mass shooting at a Uvalde school that claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers.

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The report described “systemic failures” as nearly 400 officers at Robb Elementary School massed in a hallway and waited 77 minutes before confronting the 18-year-old gunman.

Here are four key takeaways from the report.

Failures went beyond local police

There were 376 law enforcement officials who entered and surrounded Robb Elementary School.

The Texas Tribune reported that there were 149 U.S. Border Patrol agents, 91 state police officials and 14 members of the Department of Homeland Security at the school. There were an additional 25 Uvalde police officers, 16 Uvalde County sheriff’s deputies and 16 members of the San Antonio Police Department SWAT squad. There were also five officers under the command of Pete Arredondo, police chief of the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District.

Instead of following the active shooter doctrine developed after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre -- which states that officers immediately confront active shooters -- law enforcement teams at Robb Elementary retreated after coming under fire and then waited for backup, according to the report.

Prior investigations have blamed Arredondo for failing to take over command of the scene and waiting for a key to unlock the door to the classroom where the shooter was located. But the reports note that no state police nor federal agents, who vastly outnumbered Uvalde school and city police, asked Arredondo if he could cede authority over the response.

School’s safety protocols were faulty

Robb Elementary’s active shooter policy called for doors to classrooms to be locked during school hours, according to the Tribune. But multiple witnesses told the committee that employees often left doors unlocked, while teachers would use rocks, wedges and magnets to prop open interior and exterior doors. According to the report, that was partly due to a shortage of keys.

“In particular the locking mechanism to Room 111 was widely known to be faulty, yet it was not repaired,” the report stated.

The faulty lock to the classroom door was reported in March, according to the report. The school’s head custodian testified he never heard of any problems with that door, and maintenance records during the school year do not contain any work orders for it, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The report also stated that the school’s principal did not use the intercom system to alert teachers of a lockdown after a coach saw the gunman outside and warned school administrators via radio.

Gunman hinted at shooting spree

Salvador Ramos, 18, of Uvalde, openly showed “violent and sociopathic tendencies” in the months leading up to the mass shooting. A week before the shooting, family members knew Ramos had bought guns, the Chronicle reported.

On April 2, Ramos sent a direct message to an acquaintance on Instagram, asking, “Are you still gonna remember me in 50 something days?” the Tribune reported.

The person responded, “Probably not.”

“Hmm alright we’ll see in May,” Ramos answered back.

According to the report, the shooter had an “unstable home life,” including a mother struggling with substance abuse issues and no father figure. The shooter’s family “moved often and lived in relative poverty,” CNN reported.

Family members of the shooter knew that Ramos was estranged from his mother and that, in the days before his 18th birthday, “he asked for help in making straw gun purchases, which would have been illegal.”

Family members “uniformly refused” to buy Ramos guns, according to the report.

Officials said Ramos showed an interest in gore and violent sex online, occasionally sharing videos and images of beheadings and suicides, the Tribune reported.

Officials gave conflicting stories

In the days after the shooting, state officials undermined public trust by giving conflicting reports and false statements about what happened, the Tribune reported.

According to the report, a Uvalde Police Department lieutenant fainted just before briefing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other state leaders. Victor Escalon, the Department of Public Safety’s regional director, substituted for the officer and gave secondhand accounts from law enforcement officials.

Some of the information was inaccurate, which the committee said was the reason Abbott, in a news conference after the briefing, presented a “false narrative” that the shooting lasted as few as 40 minutes thanks to “officers who rapidly devised a plan, stacked up and neutralized the attacker.”

“A complete and thorough investigation can take months or even years to confirm every detail, especially when this many law enforcement officers are involved,” the report stated. “However, one would expect law enforcement during a briefing would be very careful to state what facts are verifiable, and which ones are not.”

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