Attorney General Merrick B. Garland (center) with Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta (left) and COPS Director Hugh Clements Jr. speaks during a news conference where they shared the findings of a federal report into the law enforcement response to Uvalde's school shooting.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said that law enforcement’s response to the Uvalde mass shooting in 2022 was a “series of major failures” and that the victims’ “loved ones deserve better.”
The Department of Justice released its report on Thursday into the 2022 mass shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, that killed 19 children and two adults. At a news conference, Garland laid out the 77 minutes between when the first officer arrived on scene that day until the shooter was killed. Garland said 33 students and three teachers were “trapped in a room with an active shooter for over an hour as law enforcement officials remained outside.” A student called 911 from inside the classroom and was on the call for 16 minutes.
The shooter fired 45 rounds total with an AR-15.
Garland called the response “a series of major failures,” but said police treated the shooter as a barricaded subject instead of an active shooter, which was the “most significant failure.” Since the Columbine shooting in 1999, police have been trained that time is not on their side, and they must act quickly.
“The law enforcement response to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary was a failure,” Garland said at the news conference. “As a threat posed to our country by mass shootings has grown and evolved over the past several decades, law enforcement’s responses, tactics have also changed.”
He added: “Policing is a noble profession. It is also a hard one. It requires training and constant education about evolving threats.”
Garland said that some police officers on scene that day lacked any active shooting training at all. He also said that communication was a failure. Some victims were transported on buses without medical attention. Some families were told that their children had survived when they hadn’t ― and the community didn’t receive timely information about what had occurred. Garland added that families of victims “deserve more than incomplete and inaccurate information” on the status of their loved ones.
“Our children deserve better than to grow up in a country where an 18-year-old has easy access to a weapon that belongs on the battlefield, not in the classroom.”
The report does not recommend any criminal charges for any police officers, however. Beto O’Rourke, a former Congressperson from Texas, wrote on X: “Without recommending criminal charges, there will be no accountability. Without accountability, there will be no change.”
The DOJ Uvalde report gets one thing right. The response by law enforcement — who waited over an hour to act — was “a failure”.
But it doesn’t go far enough.
Without recommending criminal charges, there will be no accountability. Without accountability, there will be no change.
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) January 18, 2024
The Justice Department privately briefed victims’ family members Wednesday night before the report was made public, according to The Associated Press.