If one thing is clear about what happened on May 24 in Uvalde, Texas, it is that it will forever be an example of institutional failure.
The first official examination of the murderous shooting rampage at Robb Elementary School showed failures across every aspect of the day leading up to it and the response to the shooting.
The 77-page report released Sunday and authored by a special committee of Texas Rep. Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock), Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso) and Texas Supreme Court Judge Eva Guzman found systemic failures in the law enforcement response to the shooting that led to the deaths of 19 children and two teachers. Despite having no firearms experience, the shooter also wounded 17 others and held 376 officers at bay for more than an hour.
Like everything associated with the Uvalde story, the committee's report offered contradictions from previous statements. As the committee presented to Uvalde, the New York Times reported on a chaotic battle between city officials and state law enforcement about the narrative of the shooting. It also blamed nearly everyone, including teachers, the media and the shooter's family.
However, the report's end result was a story of law enforcement failing to act until it was too late.
"A major error in the law enforcement response at Robb Elementary School was the failure of any officers to assume and exercise effective incident command," the report said. "Uvalde Police officers responding to a vehicle wreck and shots fired appear to have arrived first on the scene, which would make one of them the initial incident commander."
Law enforcement agencies from all over the region arrived on the scene, including 149 Border Patrol officers and 91 from the Department of Public Safety. Ultimately, it was the Border Patrol's tactical team that took command of the scene and killed the suspect.
According to the report, the shooter fired 100 rounds in two minutes in classrooms 111 and 112. The report suggests the shooter used 5.56 millimeter 75-grain boat tail hollow point bullets, which exploded inside the bodies. A Uvalde pediatrician said some of the children were decapitated by the shooting.
"The Committee has not received medical evidence that would inform a judgment about whether breaching the classroom sooner than the approximately 73 minutes that passed between the first responders' initial arrival at the west building and their eventual breach of the classrooms could have been saved lives or mitigated injuries," the report said.
The report also addressed the narrative problems, including a shifting story told by Gov. Greg Abbott and the Department of Public Safety Director Col. Steve McCraw. The New York Times highlighted the war of words between Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin and McCraw about the narrative.
"An uncertain narrative also opens the door much wider for conspiracy theories, many of which have been harmful," the report said. "The fear of a coverup is palpable here, and while most see it as simply part of an intragovernmental "blame game," others have made wild accusations that authorities are sweeping some major scandal under the rug."
Other committee findings:
- Robb Elementary had recurring problems with maintaining its doors and locks.
- Teachers at Robb Elementary often used rocks to prop open exterior doors.
- A Uvalde Police Department officer saw a person dressed in black and thought it might have been the attacker. From a distance of over 100 yards, that officer requested permission to shoot. Subsequent analysis suggests that the person in black was a school coach, and the officer did not have an opportunity to stop the attacker by shooting him before he entered the west building.
- Robb Elementary School Coach Yvette Silva acted heroically and almost certainly saved lives by alerting the school to the attacker's advance. Most fourth-grade classes successfully locked down as a result of her quick response.
- There was an overall lackadaisical approach by law enforcement at the scene. For many, that was because they were given and relied upon inaccurate information. For others, they had enough information to know better.
- While 911 received communications from victims inside Rooms 111 and 112, Chief Arredondo did not learn about it because of his failure to establish a reliable method of receiving critical information from outside the building.
- Chief Arredondo did not actually exercise tactical incident command over the Border Patrol Tactical team, nor did the BORTAC team seek instruction from Chief Arredondo.