Texas school shooting: Justice Department will review law enforcement response

UVALDE, Texas — The U.S. Department of Justice announced Sunday that it will review the law enforcement response to the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that left 19 students and two teachers dead.

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“At the request of Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, the U.S. Department of Justice will conduct a critical incident review of the law enforcement response to the mass shooting in Uvalde,” the Justice Department said in a statement Sunday. “The goal of the review is to provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses that day, and to identify lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare for and respond to active shooter events.”

The deadliest school shooting in more than a decade has been fraught with conflicting official accounts of how it unfolded.

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Demands for accountability rose Saturday after officials admitted that law enforcement officers in Uvalde improperly waited a long time before rushing the classroom at Robb Elementary School, The Washington Post reported.

“Everybody is frustrated about the failures of what happened,” Texas state Sen. Roland Gutierrez told CNN on Saturday. “No community anywhere in the United States should have to deal with this.”

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According to a timeline from Steven McCraw, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, 70 minutes elapsed between the first call to 911 and when police finally confronted 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, The Dallas Morning News reported.

Justice Department spokesperson Anthony Coley said the review would be conducted in a fair, impartial and independent manner, The Associated Press reported. Coley said the findings would be made public.

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By Friday, authorities acknowledged that students and teachers repeatedly begged 911 operators for help while the police chief told more than a dozen officers to wait in a hallway at Robb Elementary School. Officials said he believed the suspect was barricaded inside adjoining classrooms and that there was no longer an active attack.

In addition to the 21 fatalities at the school, 17 other people were injured by Ramos, including three law enforcement officers, according to the Post. Officials said Ramos entered the school building “unobstructed” through a door that was unlocked, KSAT-TV reported. He was eventually killed by law enforcement more than an hour later.

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President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited Uvalde on Sunday, placing white roses at the makeshift memorial outside the school. The Bidens then attended a Mass at a local Catholic church, according to the AP. He was also scheduled to meet with family members at a community center and then with first responders at the local airport before returning to Washington, the White House said.