Yesterday, we got our first look at the 70+ page report into the Robb Elementary School massacre. I haven’t had a chance to read it all but it is clear from what I have read–and from media reports–that there is plenty of blame to pass around. The teachers and students wounded and killed in the attack deserved better. They were failed by their school district, by school administration, by school police, local police and outside police forces. They were failed by the family and friends of the shooter. They were failed by social media platforms that are so quick to flag posts of Mel Brooks musicals making fun of Hitler but that apparently did little to nothing when the shooter’s posting history was such it earned him the nickname of “school shooter”. The fact the citizens of Uvalde have remained as calm through this process as they have is a wonder to me and my heart goes out not only to those families who lost loved ones but to the community as a whole.
Between the video leaked by the Austin-American Statesman last week and the report released yesterday, there are a few conclusions that can’t be ignored. Because of a problem with having enough keys for everyone who might need one, those working at the school became complacent about leaving doors unlocked. At times, they even blocked doors so they couldn’t close. Anyone familiar with the school would know that.
Then there’s the report that the male teacher wounded in the attack had reported to the office that his school room door didn’t lock properly. Unfortunately, that report never made its way to maintenance. Because of that, it wasn’t repaired and the shooter had an easier time of getting inside than he would otherwise.
We also can’t forget that there was an atmosphere of complacency among teachers and staff when the lockdown alert sounded. Uvalde is located near the Texas/Mexico border. Every time Border Patrol is chasing an illegal immigrant, the school went on lockdown. That alert became like the boy who cried wolf. Perhaps it is time different alert signals were implemented.
Pete Arrendondo didn’t come out of the report unscathed either. He did not take command of the situation nor did he hand command off to anyone outside the building. He just assumed that would happen. Worse, he did not stick to the school shooter plan drawn up by the district to deal with such situations. Oh, he also wrote that policy (or helped write it). I wonder if he’s going to say he didn’t know about the plan, just like he said he didn’t take his radio or phone in with him–even though the video clearly shows him talking on the phone at least once durin the standoff.
The other agencies involved also received their share of blame for what happened. There were officers outside who should have taken command when it became clear there was no leadership coming from inside. You had Arrendondo there. You had the Uvalde acting-police chief, Border Patrol, Texas Rangers and who knows what other agencies present. In all, close to 400 cops of one flavor or another reported to the scene and it still took approximately an hour and a half before they moved in.
The impact of this report is going to be long-reaching. Uvalde is a small, close-knit community. This has destroyed its sense of peace and safety. It has destroyed their trust in the school and in the police. They spent 21 days–21 days–burying their dead. One a day, or thereabouts, so the community could mourn each of the victims and do what it could to support the families.
The only questions are who will lose their jobs over this and who will be brought up on charges.
And none of it will help the families because much of what led to the shooting could have been fixed, possibly preventing the massacre from happening.
But would haves and could haves only muddy the waters. All I know for certain is I don’t blame the families for calling the cops who stood in the corridor doing nothing cowards. Every politician in that town should be worrying about their political career. As for me, I’ll continue to pray for the town, for the families and for the wounded and murdered–and I will try to keep my own anger under control because it was all preventable.
Not by gun control.
But by the district maintaining the school in good condition. By teachers following protocol. By cops following protocol and not standing around, twiddling their thumbs. By the shooters’ family actually stepping up and taking control when the kid needed help.
May God be with Uvalde right now. It is going through what no family, much less town, should have to.