US Justice Dept cites ‘critical failures’ in Uvalde school shooting response By Reuters

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© Reuters. Attendees hold candles during a vigil at Uvalde Memorial Park, one year after a gunman killed 19 children and two adults in Robb Elementary School, in Uvalde, Texas, May 24, 2023. REUTERS/ Evan Garcia/ File Photo

By Andrew Goudsward

(Reuters) -The U.S. Justice Department found “critical failures” in the delayed police response to the 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two teachers.

A Justice Department review released on Thursday found shortcomings in “leadership, decision-making, tactics, policy and training” that led to a confused police response and a delay in confronting the gunman at Robb Elementary School.

The report concluded officers should have immediately breached a classroom to stop the shooting, but instead treated the gunman like a barricaded subject and allowed him to remain in a classroom with victims for more than an hour.

The report details the results of the department’s “Critical Incident Review,” of the law enforcement response, a review which began days after the shooting at the request of Uvalde’s mayor.

The police response to the massacre came under intense criticism following reports that law enforcement waited in a hallway for more than an hour while the gunman remained holed up in a classroom and students made panicked 911 calls.

A U.S. Border Patrol-led tactical team ultimately burst into the classroom and killed the gunman.

A July 2022 report from Texas lawmakers described an “atmosphere of chaos” at the scene and concluded that law enforcement “failed to prioritize saving the lives of innocent victims over their own safety.”

The Justice Department review is aimed at providing an independent analysis and identifying lessons for authorities responding to other mass shootings. The department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services led the assessment with the help of outside experts in emergency management, active shooter response and school safety.

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