The Texas House committee’s extensive report on the May 24 Uvalde school massacre has unveiled systemic and epic failures in the response from almost everyone involved..
The 77-page “interim report,” first made available to the victims’ families, described “an overall lackadaisical approach” by nearly 400 officers who responded, a number of whom were from federal agencies.
The report comes after finger-pointing from law enforcement agencies in the aftermath of the shooting, as well as local officials decrying a lack of transparency and victims’ families learning on a piecemeal basis what more could have been done to save their loved ones.
Here are some key takeaways:
- Law enforcement shared systemic responsibility: In total, 376 law enforcement officers descended upon the school in a chaotic, uncoordinated scene that stretched for 73 more minutes. The group was devoid of clear leadership, basic communications and sufficient urgency to take down the gunman, the report says. Instead of following the active shooter doctrine developed after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, which dictates that officers immediately confront active shooters, police at Robb Elementary retreated after coming under fire and then waited for backup.
- The school’s safety protocols fell short: Robb Elementary’s active shooter policy called for doors to classrooms to be locked during school hours. 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. This was partly because of a shortage of keys, the report states. Uvalde schools also used an alert system that included a phone application allowing anyone in the school to initiate a “secure” or “lockdown” alert. But the committee found that staff did not reliably receive the alerts because of poor Wi-Fi and cell coverage and the fact that some school personnel didn’t keep their phones on or with them. The committee also found that school personnel didn’t always respond to alerts with a sense of urgency.
- The shooter gave hints of his coming rampage: On April 2, the shooter sent several cryptic online messages that he was planning something. Online, officials said, he started to show an interest in gore and violent sex, sometimes sharing videos and images of suicides and beheadings. While playing games, he became enraged and threatened others, especially female players, when he lost. Attacking women became a pattern. He was also fired from his job at a Whataburger after a month for threatening a female coworker. Despite the threats and violent talk, none of his online behavior was reported to law enforcement.
- Distorted facts: In the days following the shooting, state officials unnecessarily undermined public trust in the ongoing investigations by making false statements about what had happened, the report states.
*The Texas Tribune contributed to this report.