July 21, 2022
For anti-gun advocates who love to say, “You don’t need a gun; just call police in an emergency,” the lengthy report on the failed law enforcement response to the Uvalde elementary school mass murder certainly doesn’t help make their point.
The 77-page report by the Texas House of Representatives committee studying the shooting cites “systemic failures” in the police response when an armed man entered Robb Elementary School on May 24 and started shooting children and teachers. In the end, 19 students and two teachers were killed, and 17 others were wounded.
“The Uvalde CISD’s written active shooter plan directed its police chief (Pete Arredondo) to assume command and control of the response to an active shooter,” the report stated. “The chief of police was one of the first responders on the scene. But as events unfolded, he failed to perform or to transfer to another person the role of incident commander. This was an essential duty he had assigned to himself in the plan mentioned above, yet it was not effectively performed by anyone. The void of leadership could have contributed to the loss of life as injured victims waited over an hour for help, and the attacker continued to sporadically fire his weapon.”
The report further concluded that while the school system’s police department failed to implement its active shooter plan and failed to exercise command and control of law enforcement responding to the tragedy, they weren’t the only law enforcement personnel on site who did nothing to stop further loss of life for more than an hour during the attack.
“Hundreds of responders from numerous law enforcement agencies—many of whom were better trained and better equipped than the school district police—quickly arrived on the scene,” the report stated. “Those other responders, who also had received training on active shooter response and the interrelation of law enforcement agencies, could have helped to address the unfolding chaos. Yet in this crisis, no responder seized the initiative to establish an incident command post. Despite an obvious atmosphere of chaos, the ranking officers of other responding agencies did not approach the Uvalde CISD chief of police or anyone else perceived to be in command to point out the lack of and need for a command post, or to offer that specific assistance.”
What transpired after the first law enforcement officer arrived and until the classroom door was breached was some 73 minutes of officers largely standing around appearing on video like they didn’t know what to do next. That’s despite most having had active shooter training, which, since the Columbine massacre in Colorado in 1999, has stressed to officers the importance of addressing the threat immediately.
In all, nearly 400 officers responded to the school during the incident, but the decision to finally confront the gunman was made by a small group of officers, including specially trained Border Patrol agents and a deputy sheriff from a neighboring county, according to the report.
State Rep. Dustin Burrows, head of the legislative committee performing the investigation, said it would be up to the individual agencies involved to hold their officers accountable for the lack of action.
“If there’s only one thing that I can tell you is, there were multiple systemic failures,” Burrows said at a Sunday news conference. “Several officers in the hallway or in that building knew or should have known there was dying in that classroom, and they should have done more, acted with urgency.”
Hopefully, the hard lessons learned in Uvalde will inspire law enforcement agencies across the nation to redouble efforts in training officers for active shooter situations. That won’t save the lives of those lost in Uvalde, but it might save many other lives in other locations in the future.
As for America’s lawful gun owners, we’ve always known that when seconds count, police are only minutes away. Now we have learned that at times, even if police are present they might not do what’s necessary to save our lives.
In the end, the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun really is a good guy with a gun. And when nobody is there to help, you have to be that good guy.
About the Author
Freelance writer and editor Mark Chesnut is the owner/editorial director at Red Setter Communications LLC. An avid hunter, shooter and political observer, he has been covering Second Amendment issues and politics on a near-daily basis for the past 20 years.