UVALDE, Texas — The families of the Uvalde Robb Elementary School shooting victims met privately with a Texas House committee on Sunday to hear the results of its investigation.
Following that meeting, the committee held a press conference where they publicly spoke about the report and took questions.
The interim report includes disturbing details about the gunman leading up to the May 24 shooting. It touches on three major areas, including the gunman’s family missing warning signs, a school district not adhering to its safety plan and a law enforcement response that didn’t line up with its own active shooter training.
The committee, led by State Rep. Dustin Burrows, shared what they learned as they looked into the school shooting.
"If there’s only one thing that I can tell you is there were multiple systemic failures. I would invite everyone to read the entire report," Burrows said at the press conference. "You cannot cherry-pick one sentence and use it to say everything without reading and without context. But if we need a simple phrase to describe what the report says, again I would tell you multiple systemic failures."
The report said the 18-year-old who killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary had no experience with firearms before the rampage. He targeted an elementary school with an active shooter policy that had been deemed adequate but that also had a long history of leaving doors propped open.
"With hindsight, we can say that Robb Elementary was not adequately prepared for the risk of a school shooter," Burrow said. "The school’s 5-foot fence was inadequate. Despite the policy of locked doors, there was a regrettable culture of noncompliance. In fact, all three exterior doors to the building were unlocked that day and multiple interior doors were not secured the day of the shooting."
The release by the Texas House committee also includes a 77-minute hallway video, which KVUE and its media partners at the Austin American-Statesman first published on Tuesday, showing officers waiting to confront the gunman.
State Rep. Joe Moody and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, who are also on the committee, spoke of the "multiple systemic failures" that took place at the school on May 24.
"It’s hard to hear there were multiple systemic failures because we want to tell ourselves that systems work. We want to tell ourselves there's one person we can point our fingers at," Moody said. "We want to tell ourselves that this won't happen again. That’s just not true. What happened here is complicated. But there’s also a call to action in this report because systems are something that we can and must improve."
Guzman spoke of the "breakdown of procedures and protocols and processes" that happened before and during the shooting.
"That truth is heavy and it's hard because it lays bare human failures and it makes us confront collapses in our systems," Guzman said. "They were supposed to work. They were supposed to protect the innocents who now lay in their graves."
Texas State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, whose District 19 includes Uvalde, said out of nearly 40 witnesses interviewed for this investigation, half were members of law enforcement.
"There were 360 officers there. They interviewed 20. We saw one body cam. Where are the rest of them?" he asked. "Every one of them waited. For what? In that waiting period, we might have lost three children who bled out."
Many families already watched the video that was released on Sunday, showing officers waiting in the hallway not taking down the gunman for more than an hour.
Gutierrez is hoping for more video to be released in the coming weeks.
He said seven days after the shooting, he watched body camera footage showing the perspective of the gunman firing at officers.
"You see the construction material going over their heads as they duck down to avoid being hit. That is the awesome and extreme danger that comes with that kind of ammunition and that kind of fire power," Gutierrez said. "Those cops knew that that day and yet they let those children sit in there."
Gutierrez said the Texas Department of Public Safety offered to let him see more video as long as he signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). He said he refused and instead filed a lawsuit against the agency to get records released. Hearings are set for Aug. 4 in Travis County.
"My fear is that by the end of Sunday evening, we will still have a lot of questions left unanswered," he added.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said there are multiple investigations underway surrounding the Robb Elementary shooting. The Texas Rangers, FBI and U.S. Department of Justice are conducting their own investigation. The Uvalde District Attorney's Office is in the middle of their investigation, in addition to the Texas Senate.
Following the release of the report, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin announced that the officer serving as Uvalde's acting police chief on the day of the shooting was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into his actions that day.
Lt. Mariano Pargas was the acting chief of police that day and an investigation is underway to determine if he should have taken command of the scene, what he did to take command, or if that was even possible. The mayor also released bodycam footage from officers at the scene.
The report provided the following breakdown of agency response to the shooting:
- United States Border Patrol - 149
- Texas Department of Public Safety - 91
- Uvalde Police Department - 25
- San Antonio Police Department (SWAT) - 16
- Uvalde County Sheriff's Office - 16
- Department of Homeland Security (HIS) - 14
- United States Marshals - 13
- Drug Enforcement Agency - 8
- Frio County Sheriff's Office - 7
- Kinney County Sheriff's Office - 5
- Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District - 5
- Dilley Police Department - 4
- Zavala County Sheriff's Office - 4
- Medina County Sheriff's Office - 3
- Sabinal Police Department - 3
- City of Uvalde Fire Marshals - 2
- Pearsall Police Department - 2
- Texas Parks and Wildlife - 2
- Uvalde County Constables - 2
- Val Verde County Sheriff's Office - 2
- Frio County Constables - 1
- Southwest Texas Junior College - 1
- Zavala County Constables - 1
Gov. Abbott released the following statement following the report's release:
“I want to thank Speaker Phelan and the Texas House for their investigation and for sharing a detailed account directly with the victims’ families and the Uvalde community. The findings in their investigative report are beyond disturbing and raise serious concerns about the response that day. There are critical changes needed as a result of the Texas House’s findings. With multiple investigations still ongoing, including those by the Texas Senate, FBI, and Texas Rangers, we will begin working with the legislature to develop and implement the necessary changes to improve public safety, school safety and mental health assessment and treatment.”
KVUE sister station KENS contributed to this report.
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