On Sunday, the US government announced a federal investigation into the police response to the mass shooting at a Texas school five days ago, amid mounting anger over why armed officers waited for more than an hour in the hall outside the classroom where the shooter killed 19 children and two. teachers and other wounded.
The US Justice Department said it will conduct a “serious incident review” of law enforcement operations in the small South Texas town of Ovaldi on Tuesday.
“The aim of the review is to provide an independent report on law enforcement actions and responses that day, and to identify lessons learned and best practices to assist first responders in preparing for and responding to active shooting events,” the Department of Justice said. .
He noted that Yuvaldi Mayor Don McLaughlin had requested the review.
Pedro Arredondo, the Uvald School District Police Chief, remained out of sight and under police protection on Sunday, with state officials saying it was a “wrong decision” not to break into the classroom where the gunman was holed up.
Failures to respond to the school shooting may have contributed to more deaths, said Texas Senator Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat who represents Ovaldi, and spoke to the mother of a child who died of a single gunshot wound.
“The first responder they last spoke to said their child probably bled to death,” Gutierrez told CNN Sunday morning. “In those extra 30 or 40 minutes, this little girl might have survived.”
“There’s been a big mistake here,” he added, though he said the responsibility shouldn’t lie with a police officer.
“At the end of the day everyone failed, these kids failed us,” he said, including lawmakers who failed to pass stricter gun safety laws.
The gunman who caused the massacre at Robb Elementary School was 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, who reportedly made violent threats on social media and bragged about guns.
He legally bought the assault rifle and hundreds of ammunition that he took to school.
While locked up and vaccinated in a classroom with the children and their teachers, one of the children called 911 at least six times to seek help from the police, even though the officers were right outside the door.
Gutierrez said he had questions about the official schedule of events, including the agency responsible for responding. In the end, it was the Federal Border Patrol agents, not the Ovaldi School Police or the Separate City Police, which have a part-time tactical SWAT team, who confronted and killed the gunman.
This appeared to violate government protocols to “quickly counter the attacker”.
Criticism of the law enforcement response came from both sides of the political divide. “The fact that it took a border patrol an hour later to get in and do a police job is very embarrassing,” Texas Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw, a former US Navy officer, told CNN.
“It appears that clear protocols have not been followed,” Crenshaw added. “So we’re continuing to investigate, but it’s hard to see how someone wouldn’t get fired for making these really bad calls.”
On Friday, Stephen McCro, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, admitted that the delay in storming the classroom was a “wrong decision.”
One of Arredondo’s neighbors, Lydia Torres, told the New York Post, “House [Pedro] Arredondo is a coward. He didn’t do his job. Abandon the children. Hiding in his house and asking for PD [police department] Patrol the area and guard his house day and night. He should come out and speak.”
Florida congressman and former Orlando police commissioner Val Demings called for a “full investigation,” telling CBS, “We have more questions than answers.”