According to a 77-page investigative report released by the Texas House on Sunday, nearly 400 law enforcement officers—376 to be exact—responded to the mass shooting that claimed 21 lives at Robb Elementary School on May 24, but not one of them was willing to risk their life to save the children and teachers. “There is no one to whom we can attribute malice or ill motives,” authors of the report wrote. “Instead, we found systemic failures and egregiously poor decision making.”
The investigative committee found fault with the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District Police Department as well as state and federal law enforcement authorities, including the police chief of the school district, Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, who dubbed himself incident commander but failed to carry out the protocol he established. Arredondo has since resigned his position. “The void of leadership could have contributed to the loss of life as injured victims waited over an hour for help, and the attacker continued to sporadically fire his weapon,” authors of the report wrote. “A command post could have transformed chaos into order, including the deliberate assignment of tasks and the flow of the information necessary to inform critical decision making.”
RELATED STORY: Newly released Uvalde videos show shooter entering, followed by police inaction
The House committee continued in the report:
Notably, nobody ensured that responders making key decisions inside the building received information that students and teachers had survived the initial burst of gunfire, were trapped in Rooms 111 and 112, and had called out for help. Some responders outside and inside the building knew that information through radio communications. But nobody in command analyzed this information to recognize that the attacker was preventing critically injured victims from obtaining medical care. Instead of continuing to act as if they were addressing a barricaded subject scenario in which responders had time on their side, they should have reassessed the scenario as one involving an active shooter.
The committee described "precious time wasted" searching for keys to doors and shields when a "sledgehammer" or entry through an exterior window could have clearly done the trick.
CNN released body camera video on Sunday of police arriving on the scene and struggling to find door keys.
“Uvalde CISD and its police department failed to implement their active shooter plan and failed to exercise command and control of law enforcement responding to the tragedy,” authors of the investigative report wrote.
But these local officials were not the only ones expected to supply the leadership needed during this tragedy. Hundreds of responders from numerous law enforcement agencies—many of whom were better trained and better equipped than the school district police—quickly arrived on the scene. Yet in this crisis, no responder seized the initiative to establish an incident command post. Despite an obvious atmosphere of chaos, the ranking officers of other responding agencies did not approach the Uvalde CISD chief of police or anyone else perceived to be in command to point out the lack of and need for a command post, or to offer that specific assistance.
Authors of the report also described "low-quality internet service, poor mobile phone coverage, and varying habits of mobile phone usage at the school" all leading to inconsistencies in which teachers were notified that the school had locked down.
“In violation of school policy, no one had locked any of the three exterior doors to the west building of Robb Elementary,” the committee wrote. “As a result, the attacker had unimpeded access to enter. Once inside, the attacker continued into the adjoining Rooms 111 and 112, probably through the door to Room 111, and apparently completely unimpeded.”
The report, which is the result of dozens of interviews and "hours of audio visual evidence," according to The Washington Post, builds on leaked details that served to dispute the narrative state troopers initially tried to spread. When video of the shooting was leaked to the media, it showed the shooter later identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos get out of a pickup truck, hop a fence, go into the school, and firing a rifle "unobstructed," the Post reported.
Police responded three minutes after the gunman went into the first classroom, but "rapid shots sent them retreating further down the hallway," the Post reported. They stayed away for almost 77 minutes, one officer even taking time to use hand sanitizer, according to the newspaper.
One teacher told NBC News of the horror she faced just in double checking to make sure her classroom door was locked, given the school lacked doors that could be locked from the inside. During drills, she had appointed a student to let her back inside the classroom after checking to make sure the door was locked. So when the time came to use what they practiced, she said she asked the child: "Do you remember what we do?"
He responded, teary-eyed, "Yes, ma'am."
The teacher was able to check the classroom door and return to safety. She told NBC News that the gunman went inside the classroom across from hers.
Officers intervened only to try to prevent bystanders from doing what they should have done.
RELATED STORY: Mother who ran into Texas school during shooting says cops are warning her to stop talking
Angeli Rose Gomez, a mother who was able to save her children, told media outlets including CBS News how officers handcuffed her to try to prevent her from running into the school. She said when Uvalde officers told marshals to remove the handcuffs, she ran to get her children.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott initially praised officers’ response and later said he was “misled.”
“I am livid about what happened,” Abbott said during a news conference The Texas Tribune covered in late May. “The information I was given turned out, in part, to be inaccurate, and I am absolutely livid about that.”
Not livid enough to support legislative measures to tighten restrictions on guns or to up the age to purchase weapons like the one Ramos used. The governor is just livid enough to give lip service to a community’s devastation.
Authors of the investigative report, however, reminded the public:
“We must not delude ourselves into a false sense of security by believing that ‘this would not happen where we live.’ The people of Uvalde undoubtedly felt the same way. We must all take seriously the threats to security in our schools and the need to be properly prepared to confront active shooter scenarios.”
Read the investigative committee’s full report: