August 8, 2022

Uvalde police missed opportunities to stop Ropp Elementary shooter, report finds

A gun-wielding Uvalde police officer had the Rob Elementary gunman in his sights before entering the school building, but worried about hitting children and asked for permission to shoot — which he didn’t get. After action report Published on Tuesday.

The officer’s supervisor “did not hear or responded late to the request” to stop the 18-year-old shooter — one of many missed opportunities to stop. A massacre that destroyed the lives of 19 children and two teachers.

Researchers at the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center (ALERRT) at Texas State University, which specializes in active shooter training, identified tactical errors and protocol violations. States in nearly a decade. The subject matter experts based their findings on a one-hour conference with an investigating officer and evidence such as surveillance footage, oral 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 several reports and investigations by local, state and federal officials examining the much-criticized response of law enforcement. to 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 gunman. In the intervening minutes, there were injured and dying children in rooms 111 and 112 stuck And called 911 for help.

A three-person Texas House quasi-judiciary committee has interviewed 36 people — 19 of them law enforcement officials — behind closed doors and is expected to put together an investigative report in late July. Witnesses have cooperated but Uvalde County Sheriff Ruben Nolasco has so far ignored requests to testify and could face a subpoena, the panel said.

The Justice Department is also examining the law enforcement response to the attack.

The ALERRT report echoes Texas Department of Public Safety officials Outlined for State Senators Earlier this month, training experts added context and perspective to understand what should have happened or what could have happened if law enforcement had passed their training. However, their chronology falls short of explaining why certain decisions were made.

Armed Uvalde officers were waiting for a key to an unlocked door, the official says

“It is not clear why the authorities finally decided to raid the room at 12:50:03,” the report said. “Although we do not have definitive information at this stage, some of those who died during this event may have been saved if they had received prompt medical attention.”

Much of the blame and anger was directed at Uvalde School Police Chief Pedro “Pete” Arredondo. Recently resigned From his city council position. But the authors focused on the personal actions of officers responding to the scene and the chaos that covered up the many missed opportunities police had to stop the shooter.

Arredondo’s attorney did not respond to requests for comment.

In the Uvalde police officer’s case, waiting for permission to use deadly force cost precious time, the report said. The officer at 148 yards would have been justified in taking the shot, but he was concerned about missing and injuring the students.

Reluctance destroyed the opportunity to stop the carnage before it began.

“When he returned to speak to the suspect, the suspect had already entered the west hall’s exterior door at 11:33:00 a.m.,” the authors wrote.

Pete Blair, executive director of ALERRT and one of the report’s authors, said under Texas law, an officer is not required to ask for permission to use deadly force. While individual departments have policies for specific situations, the officer ultimately has the authority to make the call, he said.

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

A Uvalde School District officer who arrived on campus within minutes drove quickly enough to miss the gunman. Had he approached more slowly, “he may have seen the suspect before he entered the building and may have been able to engage him,” experts said.

The first three Uvalde police officers on the scene retreated when shots were fired inside the school, leading to a loss of momentum, the report said. Two officers were grazing as the gunman’s bullets pierced the sheetrock walls.

But it was followed by a number of confusing decisions that didn’t seem to adhere to the protocols for active shooting situations. Officers are trained to “stop the killing” and then to “stop the dying,” but law enforcement in Uvalde was equipped with keys and locks for doors they weren’t even trying to open. The shooting continued as police failed to develop an alternative plan to attack the gunman.

A half-century later, ‘Fierce Madres’ in Uvalde calls for another movement

The officers had body armor and guns, but they did not open fire. Arredondo called for the SWAT team. They asked for ballistic shields. The chief tried to negotiate with the unresponsive shooter. But none of those demands appeared to lead to immediate action to save lives, the report said.

“The first priority is to protect the lives of the victims/victims. “Secondly, the safety of the officers, and lastly the suspect,” experts said. “This order means we expect officers to take risks to save innocent lives.”

“Not surprisingly, officers who have never been shot before are overwhelmed by directed fire,” the report said.

The report noted that every law enforcement officer must be aware of the possibility that they may be injured or killed.

Arredondo testified for hours in a closed-door hearing before a Texas House committee, but has rarely spoken publicly since the shooting. His lawyer, George E. Hyde, previously told the Texas Tribune He said he was involved as a first responder and responded to the shooting and was “not in a position to run this whole system.”

“The absence of an effective mandate could undermine both the Stop the Killing and Stop the Dying components,” the report said.

The report also confirmed that Uvalde was with a school teacher He closed the outer door behind her as she retreated inside the building. But it opened. The shooter had no problem getting in. However, if it was locked, the gunman could have shot out the windows and somehow gained access to the door.

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

“Most of what they’ve done 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 people cheated or are responsible, but to identify what things went well and what didn’t.”

Texas State Senate. Roland Gutierrez (D) said the report offered nothing new that the police response was flawed and in stark contrast to what law enforcement has done in other recent mass shootings. The senator noted that the report did not detail the role Texas state troopers played.

“DBS facilitated that statement,” Gutierrez said. “Are we really supposed to believe that the guy who broke up the cafeteria fights is running the show that day?”