In first known action in criminal justice system, special grand jury to examine Uvalde response, newspaper reports

A special grand jury was chosen in Uvalde, Texas, Friday to investigate the response to the 2022 massacre at Robb Elementary School, according to area newspapers.

A grand jury investigation would represent the first publicly known development within the criminal justice system amid all the investigations into the botched police response.

The San Antonio Express-News reports District Attorney Christina Mitchell told them the grand jury would review evidence related to the mass shooting, but declined to comment on any focus of the grand jury investigation. Jurors are expected to spend at least six months investigating the case, according to The Uvalde Leader-News.

CNN has reached out to the local prosecutor and court officials but has not yet received a response.

Report s of the grand jury empanelment comes a day after Attorney General Merrick Garland visited Uvalde and delivered a scathing US Justice Department review of the law enforcement response – but the two events may be unrelated. The Uvalde Leader-News reports a pool of potential grand jurors had previously been summoned to appear today.

Critical failures in leadership among specific law enforcement officers who rushed to the school are blamed by the Justice Department, whose 575-page report nearly 20 months after the massacre is the fullest official accounting of what happened, though much already was known largely through CNN investigations.

The Critical Incident Review released Thursday determined Uvalde officers had many opportunities to reassess their flawed response to the school massacre as it was still unfolding. Instead, it took 77 minutes from when the 18-year-old shooter walked into the school until he was shot.

The carnage remains among the deadliest episodes in America’s ongoing scourge of campus shootings, leaving 19 children and two teachers dead.

Ample problems also emerged after the gunman was killed, from getting students away from the school and reunited with families to how bereaved parents were told their children were dead, the release of information about what happened, and the provision of therapy services, the federal report found.

“The response to the May 24, 2022, mass casualty incident at Robb Elementary School was a failure,” the Justice Department report concludes bluntly.

The DOJ report was requested by the then-mayor of Uvalde, Don McLaughlin, who within weeks of the horror said he feared a “cover-up” and being shut out of other investigations amid changing narratives of what happened that day and who took on key decisions.

While the report lays out the shortfalls and actions of law enforcement, it also has its limits, as the assessment does not make recommendations for punitive steps and offers limited introspection of federal forces’ actions.

Garland met Wednesday with victims’ families to brief them on the report’s contents, telling CNN in the meetings he heard “enormous pain — as any human being would’ve expressed given what happened to their children and their loved ones.”

The families yearn for “accountability,” said Alfred Garza III, whose 10-year-old daughter Amerie Jo Garza was killed. “We want people to be held accountable for what they didn’t do that day.”

“That’s all that’s left to do.”

CNN’s Rachel Clarke, Shimon Prokupecz, Hannah Rabinowitz, Emma Tucker, Aaron Cooper and Dakin Andone contributed to this report.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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