DOJ launches review of police response to Texas school shooting
The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Sunday announced it would review the law enforcement response to the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting after officials spent days following the tragedy giving conflicting accounts of how local police and federal authorities handled the situation.
A Justice Department spokesman said in a statement that a request for a review came from Uvalde’s mayor, Don McLaughlin (R).
“The goal of the review is to provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses that day, and to identify lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare for and respond to active shooter events,” DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley said, adding the department would publish a report at the conclusion of the review.
“As with prior Justice Department after-action reviews of mass shootings and other critical incidents, this assessment will be fair, transparent, and independent,” Coley added.
Local police have faced intense scrutiny from the public and from parents in the aftermath of the mass shooting, which killed 19 children and two teachers. On Friday, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steven McCraw, admitted it was wrong for officers to have waited for about an hour after the shooting began to confront the gunman.
“From the benefit of hindsight, where I’m sitting now, of course it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision. There’s no excuse for that,” McCraw said.
Officials initially said the shooter had “engaged” with a school resource officer but later contradicted that statement, saying such an officer had not been on campus. Law enforcement authorities later said that 19 police officers had been in the hallway outside the classroom where the gunman had barricaded himself but waited until a janitor could unlock the door with a key more than an hour after gunfire began.
While officers were in the hallway, at least one student inside the classroom where some were killed called 911 begging for police to be sent in.
Wide-ranging police protocol put in place following the Columbine school shooting in Colorado in 1999 states that police should confront an attacker as soon as possible. Officials in Texas said officers opted to wait to confront the gunman until reinforcements had arrived.
Videos, however, have emerged of parents pleading with police officers outside the school to let them in to save their own children, with some reporting they were threatened with stun guns and handcuffed.
Updated 1:45 p.m.