Police officers failed to prioritize saving lives over their own safety, the report claims
‘Systemic failures’ and poor leadership led to the high death toll in the school shooting in the town of Uvalde, Texas, legislators have concluded in a report published on Sunday.
An 18-year-old gunman opened fire at the local Robb Elementary School on May 24, killing 21 people, including 19 students.
Most of the victims died instantly, but it’s likely that some who succumbed to their wounds on their way to hospital could’ve survived if the police had acted swiftly and not waited for reinforcement for 73 minutes, the Texas House of Representatives said in its report.
“Law enforcement responders failed to adhere to their active-shooter training, and they failed to prioritize saving the lives of innocent victims over their own safety,” the 77-page paper read.
In the course of the investigation the committee “found systemic failures and egregious poor decision making,” the lawmakers pointed out, adding that “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.”
Despite “an obvious atmosphere of chaos,” the better-trained officers from other federal and state law enforcement agencies didn’t offer any advice or specific assistance to the local police, who were in command of the scene, but turned out unprepared for the responsibility, the report found.
There were 376 officers on site but the attacker was able to fire some 100 out of his 142 rounds before any of them entered the building, it added.
The lawmakers also criticized the “regrettable culture of noncompliance by school personnel,” who have been leaving interior and exterior doors open in violation of regulations. This allowed an armed person to easily enter a school and attack the people inside.
Another reason for the tragedy was a failure in communications, according to the paper.
Children inside the classrooms where the shooting had unfolded phoned 911, but the law enforcers in charge of the operation at the school weren’t informed about those emergency calls, being unaware that “that students and teachers had survived the initial burst of gunfire.”
“Nobody in command analyzed this information to recognize that the attacker was preventing critically injured victims from obtaining medical care,” the document read.
The investigation, which was based on the accounts of 33 witnesses and 39 informal interviews with members of various security agencies, was aimed at providing a basis of facts so that lawmakers could make future policy changes to make schools more secure, Representative Dustin Burrows, a Republican who headed the committee, said during a press-conference.
“If somebody failed to exercise their training, if somebody knew there were victims in there being killed or dying and did not do more, I believe those agencies will have to find accountability for those officers,” Burrows said.