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Uvalde families voice outrage after internal report absolves law enforcement of failings

Uvalde families voice outrage after internal report absolves law enforcement of failings

Parents in Uvalde, Texas expressed their outrage after a long-awaited report on the Robb Elementary mass shooting absolved first responders of any failings in their response that day.

The Uvalde City Council held a special meeting on Thursday to hear the findings of the report into the May 2022 shooting, which left 19 students and two teachers dead.

The investigation found that none of the initial five Uvalde police officers who attended the scene violated policy or committed serious acts of misconduct, prompting outrage from victims’ families in the room.

First responders waited 77 minutes before engaging with the gunman on 24 May 2022 - a delay which has come under much criticism in the nearly two years since.

A Department of Justice report released in January heavily criticised the police response, calling it a “failure”, despite around 400 personnel eventually arriving at the scene.

Thursday’s announcement came in complete contrast to that damning report, absolving Uvalde police Sgt Donald Page, Lt Javier Martinez, Detective Louis Landry and Staff Sgt Eduardo Canales of any accusations that they violated department policy.

Kimberly Rubio, who’s daughter Lexi was among 19 children killed in the massacre at Robb Elementary, speaks at a special city council meeting in Uvalde, Texas, 7 March 2024 (AP)
Kimberly Rubio, who’s daughter Lexi was among 19 children killed in the massacre at Robb Elementary, speaks at a special city council meeting in Uvalde, Texas, 7 March 2024 (AP)

While some families walked out of the meeting, others cried at the back of the room having waited for nearly two years for justice.

"How do you live with yourselves? Shame on y’all," Veronica Mata, the mother of 10-year-old victim Tess Mata, said during the public comment portion of the meeting.

"You said they did it in good faith. You call that good faith? They stood there 77 minutes and waited after they got call after call."

Another parent, Ruben Zamora, whose daughter Mayah was injured in the shooting, disagreed with the findings.

"These police officers signed up to do a job -- they didn’t do it," Mr Zamora said.

However, Jesse Prado, the former police detective who carried out the city council investigation, left before he could hear what parents had to say.

“Bring him back!” parents were heard shouting as he left.

Mr Prado did say that there were issues with communication among agencies that day, echoing some of the findings from the DOJ report which criticised the lack of leadership and communication - both amongst officers and with families.

“When the officers initially made entry into the school, they made 28 attempts to use their radios to get information out to the rest of the officers that were showing up,” he said at the meeting. “And these were 28 attempts before they were shot at that I counted from the body cams and from any video that I received.

“They had no idea what they were facing when they got here until somebody went outside … of the building to get on the radio.”

Mr Prado praised the officers, saying that they showed “immeasurable strength” and “level-headed thinking” as they dealt with the unfolding situation at the elementary school.

Families are still waiting for more answers, as an investigation by Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell has still not been made public.

Some officers did lose their jobs in the wake of the shooting, but none have faced criminal charges.