Several families of the Uvalde school shooting victims are calling for charges to be brought against law enforcement officials who responded to the tragedy after a nearly 500-page US Department of Justice report was released on Thursday.
Speaking about the probe’s findings, US Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “Lives would’ve been saved. People would’ve survived” if officials responding to the scene had followed proper procedures.
Nineteen students and two teachers died at Robb Elementary School on 24 May 2022 after an 18-year-old gunman barged into the school with an AR-15 rifle and began firing into classrooms. Hundreds of law enforcement officials from several departments arrived at the site of the incident, creating chaos about who was in charge.
“A series of major failures, failures of leadership and tactics and communications in training and in preparedness were made by law enforcement,” The attorney general said at a press conference in Uvalde on Thursday.
Officers waited outside classrooms for approximately 77 minutes before intervening to save the lives of those inside. Former School District Police Chief Pete Arredondo previously said he did not realise he was in charge of the incident, even though protocol listed him as incident commander.
The former law enforcement official told officers intending to gain entry into the building to stop.
The report provides new details, including how students who had already died were placed into ambulances and victims who’d been struck by bullets were put onto school buses without being brought to the attention of medics.
One woman who was wounded was placed on a walkway, where she eventually died.
Additionally, some family members were told their loved ones survived when they had not. The incident became the second-deadliest school shooting in the nation’s history.
“These families didn’t need a 400 or 500-page government report to learn that law enforcement failed them in a historic way,” an attorney representing the families said at a news conference following the report’s release.
Kimberly Rubio, whose 10-year-old daughter, Lexi Rubio, died in the shooting said she hopes “the failures end today and local officials do right by the victims and survivors — terminations and criminal prosecutions.”
Several relatives of the victims nodded when asked if they believed Uvalde District Attorney Christina Mitchell had everything she needed to pursue criminal charges against responding officials.
“What else does she possibly need to prosecute?” one relative said in response to a reporter’s question.
Family members were also asked about their reaction to the attorney general’s comment about lives potentially being saved had officials responded to the incident properly.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” one man said. “For these officers who shit there and just not do anything and still be out here on the streets like nothing happened.”