July 18, 2022

A Sickening Report From Uvalde

The failure of law enforcement on that awful day was even worse than we’d thought.

To think about what happened in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24 makes one sick to the stomach. There, an 18-year-old psychopath went on a deadly rampage through Robb Elementary School, murdering 19 children and two teachers before he was finally confronted and killed by law enforcement.

Finally. After more than an hour of deadly and excruciating and utterly inexcusable delay.

That 19 of our children died in the incident is tragic enough. That the first law enforcement officials to arrive on the scene failed to storm the classroom and engage the shooter immediately is perhaps understandable — for a few minutes, under orders, perhaps until a tactical team arrived, or until they heard even a single gunshot come from inside the school. But protocol for even a single officer is to engage an active shooter until the threat is ended. When one considers that 376 law enforcement officials ultimately amassed at the scene, and that it took an armed legion of that size more than an hour to engage and eliminate a single active shooter, one’s faith in law enforcement is shaken to its core.

Three-hundred-and-seventy-six to one. What in God’s name were they waiting for — better odds?

What, exactly, did these men sign up for if not this very thing? What is law enforcement meant to do if not protect our communities and especially our schools and our children? How could such a thing happen? How could the default position among so many trained professionals be inaction when everything about the situation called for action?

Mark Alexander covered the known details of the Uvalde timeline early last month, but the full 77-page investigative report was released Sunday, and it’s devastating. The Associated Press quotes from the report: “At Robb Elementary, law enforcement responders failed to adhere to their active shooter training, and they failed to prioritize saving innocent lives over their own safety.” As the AP continues, “The gunman fired approximately 142 rounds inside the building — and it is ‘almost certain’ that at least 100 shots came before any officer entered, according to the report, which laid out in detail numerous failures.”

Among those failures:

  • No one assumed command despite scores of officers being on the scene.
  • The commander of a Border Patrol tactical team waited for a bullet-proof shield and working master key for the classroom, which may have not even been needed, before entering the classroom.
  • A Uvalde Police Department officer said he heard about 911 calls that had come from inside the classroom, and that his understanding was the officers on one side of the building knew there were victims trapped inside. Still, no one tried to breach the classroom.

The video footage from that day is even more disturbing. Just 21 seconds after Ramos walks through the school doors, he starts shooting in two connected classrooms, firing sporadically over the next 48 minutes as armed officers gather in the hallway with firearms and ballistic shields. And wait. And wait. Perhaps the most maddening portion of the video (warning: graphic content) takes place when, about an hour after Ramos began shooting, an officer walks across the hallway to use the hand sanitizer dispenser. At that time, law enforcement still hadn’t engaged Ramos.

How gut-wrenchingly painful it is to report this. And yet it can’t begin to compare to the pain that the families of the lost are feeling, the families who must now and forever wonder: What if? What if just one cop, one agent, one deputy, one sheriff had said, “We’re going in right effin’ now. I’ll lead.”

Our special operators, and our young soldiers and Marines, are expected to make those types of life-or-death decisions all the time in combat. And cops routinely wade into potentially deadly domestic-dispute situations, often with only a single partner. What on earth happened with this massive force in Uvalde?

“It’s a joke,” said Vincent Salazar, grandfather of 11-year-old Layla Salazar, who was among those killed. “They’re a joke. They’ve got no business wearing a badge. None of them do.”

Eight-year-old Uziyah Garcia was one of the victims in Uvalde that day. His uncle, Mitch Renfro, spoke out with a similar sentiment earlier today on Fox News, urging the officers who failed to act to turn in their badges: “It’s horrendous to hear these things,” Renfro said. “Three hundred and seventy-six officers … stood by and failed our community, failed the state of Texas, and failed the children.”

Renfro continued: “I stand behind the law enforcement officers that surely worked for the badge. These guys, they didn’t do their job, so they must be held accountable.”

Accountability is indeed crucial here. For the sake not only of the American people but of our normally dutiful law enforcement community, we can’t ever allow such an awful lapse again.

*UPDATED to include video footage of law enforcement’s response to the incident.

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