One year after Uvalde shooting, investigation into police response continues

A criminal investigation in the southern US state of Texas into the halting police response to the Robb Elementary School shooting is still ongoing, Wednesday marks a year since a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers in a fourth grade class in Uvalde.

The ongoing investigation underscores the lasting fallout from Texas’ deadliest school shooting and how the days after the attack were marred by authorities who gave inaccurate and conflicting accounts of efforts to arrest a teenager armed with an AR type rifle.

The investigation has come amid a new wave of public anger in the United States over gun violence, renewed calls for tougher gun regulations and legal challenges against Uvalde authorities who continue to withhold public records related to the shooting as well as the police response.

Here’s a look at what’s happened in the year since one of America’s deadliest mass shootings:

police control

A damning report from Texas lawmakers put nearly 400 officers at the scene of the shooting, including from a range of federal, state and local agencies. Findings showed how heavily armed officers waited over an hour to confront and kill the 18-year-old shooter. He also accused the police of not “prioritizing the saving of innocent lives over their own safety”.

All the students killed were between 9 and 11 years old.

FILE – Family, relatives and friends emerge from a meeting in which Uvalde School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo was removed from his position by the Independent School District’s Board of Trustees Uvalde Consolidated, in Uvalde, Texas on August 24, 2022.

At least five officers who were investigated after the shooting have been fired or resigned, although a full count is unclear. Texas Department of Public Safety chief Col. Steve McCraw placed much of the blame after the attack on the Uvalde school police chief, who was later fired by administrators.

McCraw had more than 90 of its own officers at the school — more than any other agency — and pushed back on calls from some Uvalde families and lawmakers to step down as well.

Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Mitchell said last week that the Texas Rangers are still investigating the police response and her office will ultimately present the findings to a grand jury. She said she didn’t have a timeline for the end of the investigation.

On Monday, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin said he was frustrated with the pace of investigations a year later.

“They don’t have answers to the simple questions they should have,” McLaughlin said of the families.

Calls for gun control intensify

President Joe Biden signed the nation’s most sweeping gun violence bill in decades a month after the shooting. It included tougher background checks for younger gun buyers and added more funding for mental health programs and school aid.

That didn’t go as far as restrictions demanded by some Uvalde families who called on lawmakers to raise the purchase age for AR-style rifles. In the GOP-controlled Texas Capitol, Republicans this year have rejected virtually every proposal to toughen gun laws in the face of protests from families and Democrats.

FILE - Posters, flowers and portraits fill the lawn in front of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, September 6, 2022.

FILE – Posters, flowers and portraits fill the lawn in front of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, September 6, 2022.

Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott has also rejected calls for tougher gun laws, just as he did after mass shootings at a church in Sutherland Springs in 2017 and at a Walmart in ‘El Paso in 2018. The issue didn’t turn Texas voters away from Abbott, who easily won a third term a few months after Uvalde’s shooting.

Uvalde cries

The Uvalde School District has permanently closed the Robb Elementary campus and plans for a new school are underway. Schools in Uvalde will be closed on Wednesday.

A dozen students in the classroom where the shooting took place survived the attack. Some returned to the classroom in person last fall. Others attended school virtually, including a girl who spent more than two months in hospital after being shot multiple times.

Veronica Mata, a kindergarten teacher in Uvalde, also returned to class this year after her 10 daughters, Tess, were among those killed in the attack.

Some Uvalde families have filed lawsuits against the arms manufacturer and law enforcement.

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