U.S. Justice Department

Justice Department investigation finds significant failures in police response to 2022 Uvalde shooting

Jan. 18, 2024
The lengthy Critical Incident Review examines the response by law enforcement to the attack at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, left 21 people dead.

An investigation by the U.S. Justice Department says a near-total breakdown in policing protocols hindered the response to the 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that left 21 people dead — but the gravest error was the reluctance of officials to confront the killer during the first few minutes of the attack.

The New York Times reports that the investigation focused blame on “cascading failures of leadership, decision-making, tactics, policy and training” for the delayed and passive law enforcement response that allowed an 18-year-old gunman with a semiautomatic rifle to remain inside a pair of connected fourth grade classrooms at Robb Elementary School for 77 minutes before he was confronted and killed.

The “most significant failure,” investigators concluded, was the decision by local police officials to classify the incident as a barricaded standoff rather than an “active-shooter” scenario, which would have called for an instant and aggressive action regardless of the danger to those responding or the lack of appropriate weapons to confront the gunman.

"[W]hen a subject has already shot numerous victims and is in a room with additional victims, efforts first must be dedicated to making entry into the room, stopping the subject, and rendering aid to victims," the report says. "These efforts must be undertaken regardless of the equipment and personnel available to those first on the scene."

The nearly 600-page report largely mirrors the conclusions of a state investigation released last year. The federal report, compiled from 260 interviews and nearly 15,000 documents and videos, represents the most comprehensive assessment of the killing spree, which helped spur passage of new federal gun control legislation.

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