Law enforcement officers who responded to the school shooting in Uvalde, “demonstrated no urgency” in setting up a command line and the whole operation was a “failure,” according to a Justice Department report on the May 2022 shooting.
The report, released this Thursday, blamed “failures of leadership, decision-making, tactics, policy and training” for the delayed response that allowed the gunman to move freely for 77 minutes and kill 21 people before being confronted.
The “most significant failure” of the response was the decision by police officers to classify the incident as a barricaded standoff instead of an “active shooter” situation which would have allowed for quicker response and the use of the equipment necessary to deal with the 18-year-old armed with an assault rifle.
The report also highlights that police officers spent about 40 minutes searching for a key to a classroom that was probably unlocked the whole time.
“Our analysis indicates that eight interior doors in the West Building were unlocked and discovered to be unlocked by responding officers during evacuations,” the report stated according to The Washington Post.
The 575-page report was compiled from 260 interviews and nearly 15,000 documents and videos. It was initiated 20 months ago at the request of Uvalde’s former mayor, Don McLaughlin.
Families of the victims were briefed on the main conclusions before the report was released. According to the New York Times, some had the hope that the department would bring federal criminal charges against local officials responsible for the response.
Instead, the department offered a list of recommendations, including adherence to the 1999 guidelines –created after the Columbine shooting— that call for the immediate neutralization of the gunman in an active-shooter situation.
Oscar Orona, father of one of the survivors, said the report supported what parents have been saying since the shooting. “It’s not just us saying, ‘Somebody failed,’ but now the federal government has come and said, ‘Hey, this was a colossal failure,’” he said.