Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) blasted the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thursday after it released the long-anticipated report detailing failings in the Uvalde Police Department and its response to a school shooting that killed 22 people in 2022.
The DOJ report said the police department was unprepared and lacked both communication and initiative in its bungled response to the shooter, who barricaded himself inside a classroom with students.
O’Rourke, one of the state’s loudest gun control advocates, said the report should have recommended criminal charges for those responsible.
“The DOJ Uvalde report gets one thing right. The response by law enforcement — who waited over an hour to act — was ‘a failure,’” he said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “But it doesn’t go far enough.”
“Without recommending criminal charges, there will be no accountability,” he continued. “Without accountability, there will be no change.”
In the immediate response to the shooting, more than 400 law enforcement officers gathered outside of the school while the gunman continued to shoot children inside. It took more than an hour for the shooter to be killed, leaving 19 dead students and two teachers.
The DOJ report said a lack of “urgency” led to a series of “cascading failures,” including dozens of officers detaining and arresting parents who had gathered outside the school, some of whom attempted to save their children themselves.
The report concludes that law enforcement treated the situation improperly, as a case of a barricaded subject with hostages instead of an active shooter continuously inflicting harm.
“An active shooter with access to victims should never be considered and treated as a barricaded subject,” the DOJ report says, emphasis included.
The city’s police chief was fired shortly after the shooting.
The League of United Latin American Citizens also criticized the report as not going far enough, similarly pointing to the need for criminal accountability.
“Nineteen children and two teachers died, mostly Latino, and not one person is facing criminal charges yet,” President Domingo Garcia said in a statement. “How can that be when this report affirms much of what we have known for the past 20 months.”
“Law enforcement failed to act quickly and decisively and to do its job of protecting the community,” he continued. “Instead, we are left with more questions about when or whether even one person will ever face the consequences for criminal negligence or dereliction of their sworn duty. Ultimately, only the families of Uvalde can say if they believe justice has been served.”