Law

Justice Department report finds ‘critical failures’ in response to Uvalde attack

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A memorial is seen surrounding the Robb Elementary School sign following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 26, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

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Brandon Bell/Getty Images

A memorial is seen surrounding the Robb Elementary School sign following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 26, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas.

Brandon Bell/Getty Images

A U.S. Justice Department report released Thursday on the 2022 school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, found “critical failures” by law enforcement before, during, and after the attack that killed 19 children and two teachers.

The critical incident review comes more than a year and a half after the gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde. The law enforcement response to the shooting has come under fierce criticism since the day of the shooting, when police waited more than 70 minutes in the school hallways before confronting and killing the lone gunman.

“The victims and survivors of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School deserved better,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement accompanying the report. The law enforcement response at Robb Elementary on May 24, 2022 — and the response by officials in the hours and days after — was a failure.”

Garland is expected to hold a news conference in Uvalde later Thursday to outline the report’s findings.

The new report from the Justice Department, which runs some 500 pages, provides a damning look the law enforcement response to the shooting and a cascade of failures on various levels.

“The most significant failure was that responding officers should have immediately recognized the incident as an active shooter situation, using the resources and equipment that were sufficient to push forward immediately and continuously toward the threat until entry was made into classrooms 111/112 and the threat was eliminated,” the report says.

The goal of the review, the department says, is to provide an independent account of the law enforcement response to the shooting; to identify lessons learned to help prepare for future such incidents; and to provide a roadmap for community safety and engagement before, during and after such events.

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta, in a statement, said she reiterated to the families of the victims of the attack “that our report would honor the victims and survivors” in order to “prevent something like this from happening again.”

A panel of Texas state lawmakers released an interim report in July 2022, some two months after the shooting. It found “systemic failures and egregiously poor decision making” contributed to the tragedy.

This story will be updated