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Uvalde police missed opportunities to arrest Robb Elementary shooter, report says

A rifle-wielding Uvalde police officer had the Robb Elementary shooter in sight before entering the school building, but was worried about hitting children and asked permission to shoot – and didn’t obtained, according to an after-action report published on Tuesday.

Officer’s supervisor ‘didn’t hear request or responded too late’ to arrest 18-year-old shooter – one of many missed chances to arrest the carnage that claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers.

Researchers from Texas State University’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center (ALERRT), which specializes in active shooter training, also found tactical errors and potential protocol violations during a review of police response. to the worst school shooting in the United States. United States in almost a decade. Subject matter experts based their findings on an hour-long briefing with an investigator and evidence such as surveillance footage, verbal testimony and radio recordings.

The Texas Department of Public Safety and Gov. Greg Abbott (R) asked ALERRT to review the police response. It is one of many ongoing reports and investigations by local, state and federal officials examining the much-criticized response from law enforcement. to the slaughter. It took one hour, 11 minutes and 26 seconds after the first officers arrived on the scene for law enforcement to enter the classroom and kill the shooter. Within minutes, injured and dying children in rooms 111 and 112 were trapped and called 911 for help.

A three-person Texas House quasi-judicial panel has spent weeks questioning 36 people – 19 of whom are law enforcement officers – behind closed doors and is expected to write an investigation report by the end of July. The committee said the witnesses cooperated, but Uvalde County Sheriff Ruben Nolasco has so far ignored requests to testify and could face a subpoena.

The Justice Department is also reviewing law enforcement’s response to the attack.

While the ALERRT report echoes much of what Texas Department of Public Safety officials outlined to state senators earlier this month, training experts have added context and perspective to understand what should or could have happened if law enforcement had carried out their training. Their chronology, however, does not explain why certain decisions were made.

Armed Uvalde officers waited for key to unlocked door, official says

“Ultimately, it is unclear why the officers decided to attack the room at 12:50:03 p.m.,” the report said. “Although we don’t have definitive information at this stage, it is possible that some of those who died in this event could have been saved if they had received faster medical attention.”

Much of the blame and anger has been directed at Uvalde School Police Chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, who recently resigned from his position on the city council. But the writers focused on the individual actions of responding officers at the scene and the chaos obscuring the multiple missed opportunities police had to arrest the shooter.

A lawyer for Arredondo did not respond to requests for comment.

In the case of the Uvalde policeman, waiting for authorization to use lethal force costs valuable time, according to the report. The officer at 148 yards would have been justified in firing, but he feared he would miss and injure students.

Hesitation doomed the likelihood of stopping the slaughter before it began.

“When he turned to address the suspect, the suspect had already entered through the exterior door of the west concourse at 11:33 p.m.,” the authors wrote.

Pete Blair, executive director of ALERRT and one of the report’s authors, said that under Texas law, it is not necessary for an officer to seek authorization to use deadly force. While individual departments may have policies for specific circumstances, he said the agent ultimately has the authority to make a call on their own.

“He didn’t need permission,” Blair said.

An Uvalde School District officer who arrived at school property within minutes drove so fast he missed the shooter. Experts said that if he had approached more slowly, “he might have seen the suspect and could have engaged him before the suspect entered the building.”

The first three Uvalde police officers on the scene retreated when fired upon inside the school, resulting in a loss of momentum, according to the report. Two officers were grazed when the gunman’s bullets passed through the plasterboard walls.

But what followed was a series of baffling decisions that didn’t seem to follow protocol for active shooter situations. Officers are trained to ‘stop the killing’ and then ‘stop the dying’, but Uvalde’s law enforcement obsessed over keys and locks to doors they hadn’t tried to open. The shooting continued as police failed to come up with an alternate plan to attack the shooter.

Half a century after a movement, ‘Fierce Madres’ in Uvalde calls for another

The officers had bulletproof vests and guns, but they did not return fire. Arredondo called a SWAT team. They asked for ballistic shields. The leader tried to negotiate with the shooter who was unresponsive. But none of those demands seemed to prompt immediate action to save lives, the report said.

“The first priority is to preserve the lives of victims/potential victims. Second is officer safety, and last is the suspect,” the experts said. “This order means we expect officers to take risks to save innocent lives.”

“It is not surprising that officers who had never been shot before were overwhelmed by the aimed fire,” the report said.

Every law enforcement official, the report notes, should know that there is a risk that they will be injured or killed.

Arredondo testified for hours before the Texas State House committee in a closed session, but rarely spoke publicly after the shooting. His attorney, George E. Hyde, previously told the Texas Tribune that he was hired as a first responder and “not in a position to run this whole organization” in response to the shooting.

“The lack of effective command likely compromised both the Stop the Killing and Stop the Dying parts of the response,” the report said.

The report also claimed that a teacher at the Uvalde school closed the outer door behind her when she retreated inside the building. But it was unlocked. The shooter had no problem getting in. If it had been locked, however, the shooter could have fired through the windows and gained access to the door anyway.

This is the first time ALERRT has been asked to produce a formal after-action report, Blair said. DPS officials provided the briefing and access to evidence. The report is the first installment of an anticipated three-part study, Blair said.

“A lot of what they did is not consistent with our optimal response, but you have to give people the benefit of the doubt,” Blair said. “The point is not to say these guys screwed up or are responsible, but to identify what went right and what didn’t.”

Texas State Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D) said the report presented nothing new about the police response being flawed and in stark contrast to what law enforcement has been doing in other recent mass shootings. The senator noted that the report lacked details about the role played by Texas state troopers.

“DPS facilitated this report,” Gutierrez said. “Are we really supposed to believe that the guy who broke up the fights in the cafeteria was running the show that day?

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