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Relatives of Uvalde shooting victims demand responsibility from authorities following DOJ report disclosure

An inadequacy.

That’s the term the U.S. Justice Department used to characterize law enforcement’s handling of the tragic incident at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

The department made public its incident report yesterday. Spanning over 500 pages, the report marks the culmination of its 18-month probe into the 2022 shooting that resulted in the deaths of 19 children and two educators.

Prior to its public release, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland briefed families on the report’s contents. Although the information in the Justice Department’s report is not new, it could aid the families of the victims in seeking the accountability they’ve been requesting.

During a press event in Uvalde on Thursday, Garland directly criticized the actions of the nearly 400 law enforcement officers present at the scene on the day of the shooting.

“The response of law enforcement at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022, and in the subsequent hours and days, was an inadequacy that should never have occurred,” declared Garland.

The Justice Department’s critical incident review comes over a year and a half after the assailant killed 19 children and two educators at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Garland stated that the decision by the police to delay confronting the assailant for more than 77 minutes stemmed from a fundamental error: they treated it as a situation involving a barricaded individual, instead of an active shooter scenario.

“The report concludes that if law enforcement agencies had followed widely-accepted practices in an active shooter situation and immediately intervened to stop the assailant, lives would have been saved and people would have survived,” he remarked.

Garland’s statements, along with the DOJ report, confirm the longstanding assertions of the victims’ families: Law enforcement did not exert sufficient efforts to save their loved ones.

“I simply could not believe it,” expressed Jerry Mata, who lost his 10-year-old daughter Tess in the shooting, to The Texas Newsroom on Thursday.

“For these officers to remain idle, doing nothing while my daughter’s life was taken and then continuing as if nothing had happened, and my daughter’s presence gone. It was immensely difficult,” Mata expressed.

Many relatives of the victims express gratitude for the Justice Department’s decision to scrutinize the police response. Nevertheless, they desire the report to have gone further by identifying all the officers who were present at the school that day and failed to adhere to the active shooter protocols in place.

“Every individual should have been publicly named,” mentioned Kimberly Rubio, the mother of 10-year-old victim Lexi. “I fail to comprehend why they are entitled to confidentiality. My child, along with the others, is cited in this report due to their demise.”

Garland noted that what took place in Uvalde signified a failure in leadership and largely held the former Uvalde Schools Police Chief Pete Arredondo accountable. Arredondo was dismissed three months after the shooting. However, Garland also stated that the DOJ commonly refrains from disclosing the identities of lower-ranking officers involved in these incidents.

One reason why family members seek the identification of the law enforcement officers involved is so that they can face repercussions, including criminal charges.

Nonetheless, the federal government has no intention of pursuing charges, and Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell, who did not respond to a request for comment, has maintained silence regarding an ongoing criminal inquiry she claims to be conducting.

The families of the victims and a former Uvalde mayor have accused Mitchell of orchestrating a “cover up.”

Brett Cross, who lost his 10-year-old son Uziyah, expressed hope that the DOJ report will prompt action within the Uvalde DA’s office.

“Because we know she hasn’t done a darn thing, and we refuse to condone that,” he stated. “Fulfill your responsibilities.”

According to Jazmine Cazares, who lost her 9-year-old sister Jackie, DA Mitchell possesses all the necessary evidence to pursue charges against the officers.

And Cazares harbors hopes for even further progress.

“I believe that this report can be used in litigation, it can influence proposals for school safety legislation, and similar initiatives,” she expressed. “So, will it ever provide closure? Probably not, but I sincerely hope that it can affect litigations or employment terminations, among other actions.”

Cazares and other bereaved individuals vow to continue advocating for changes to gun regulations. They assert that these changes may help forestall future mass shootings — thus sparing others from experiencing the almost indescribable anguish they grapple with daily.

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Copyright 2024 KUT News. To see more, visit KUT News.

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