Texas state police will investigate response to Uvalde massacre

Texas state police form ‘internal committee’ to probe officers’ handling of attack amid widespread criticism and anger.

Protesters hold placards criticising police for their slow response to the attack on the Robb Elementary School. One sign says 'Heroes 2 Zeroes in 77 minutes' referring to the amount of time officers waited to act.
Relatives and community members continue to demand answers and accountability for the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two teachers in May [File: Lisa Krantz/Reuters]

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) has announced it will investigate the actions of state police officers during the Uvalde primary school massacre, as law enforcement’s slow response continues to prompt widespread outrage and demands for accountability.

The agency said in a statement on Monday that the probe will determine “if any violations of policy, law, or doctrine occurred” during the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24 that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

It said an “internal committee” would be charged with leading the investigation, which will also determine “where the department can make necessary improvements for future mass casualty responses”.

It is the first time Texas DPS has said it would examine the actions of its own officers in the two months since the deadliest school shooting in Texas history.

The announcement came a day after an investigative committee from the Texas House of Representatives released a report detailing the “systemic failures” of law enforcement officials to respond to the attack.

The 77-page report said 376 officers – including more than 90 state troopers – rushed to the school in a chaotic scene marked by a lack of clear leadership and sufficient urgency.

“At Robb Elementary, law enforcement responders failed to adhere to their active shooter training, and they failed to prioritise saving innocent lives over their own safety,” read the report, which was released to family members of the victims.

The White House on Monday called the findings “unacceptable” and “devastating”.

The attack in Uvalde was one of the deadliest school shootings in years in the United States and has fuelled a renewed debate on gun control and the effectiveness of police.

DPS Director Steve McCraw has called the Uvalde response an “abject failure”, and law enforcement officials have been roundly criticised by the victims’ family members, state legislators and the general public for their handling of the rampage.

“It’s a joke. They’re a joke. They’ve got no business wearing a badge. None of them do,” Vincent Salazar, the grandfather of 11-year-old Layla Salazar, who was killed in the shooting, said on Sunday.

A teacher who was shot and lay on the ground of his classroom bleeding as his students were gunned down, with police standing idly by in the hallway outside, said he would “never forgive” the responders.

Children had called 911 multiple times begging someone to save them, but it took more than 70 minutes for law enforcement to enter the room and shoot the gunman.

Sunday’s report cautioned that the Texas legislative committee found no villains other than the attacker, however. “There is no one to whom we can attribute malice or ill motives. Instead, we found systemic failures and egregiously poor decision making,” it said.

Following Uvalde, the US Congress passed substantial gun reform legislation for the first time in decades, although critics have said that it does not go far enough.

More than 352 mass shootings have taken place in the US so far in 2022, according to the Gun Violence Archive, a non-profit that defines a mass shooting as any incident in which four or more people are shot or killed, not including the attacker.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies