Uvalde Parents Erupt at Report Praising Police

Investigator tries to leave meeting without facing parents
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 7, 2024 7:30 PM CST
Uvalde Report Clears Police, Angering Victims' Families
Felicia Martinez, left, and Evadulia Orta, right, both whose children were killed in the massacre at Robb Elementary, embrace after speaking at a meeting in Uvalde, Texas, on Thursday.   (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

An investigation Uvalde city leaders ordered into the Robb Elementary School shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers defended the response by local police at a City Council meeting Thursday, prompting shouts of "cowards" from the audience and causing several family members of victims to angrily walk out. The report acknowledged wide failures by police during the 2022 attack and reiterated rippling missteps that the Justice Department and Texas state lawmakers have previously laid bare, the AP reports. Nearly 400 law enforcement agents, including Uvalde Police Department officers, rushed to the scene of the shooting but waited more than an hour to confront a teenage gunman armed with an AR-style rifle.

But an investigator hired by Uvalde officials found that the city's officers did not deserve punishment, and in some cases, praised their actions during one of the deadliest classroom shootings in US history. The presentation prompted an eruption of anger among some of the victims' family members, who scolded the investigator for leaving the room before they had a chance to address him. "You said they did it in good faith. You call that good faith? They stood there 77 minutes," said Kimberly Mata-Rubio, whose daughter was killed in the attack, after the presentation.

Jesse Prado, an Austin-based investigator and former police detective who made the report for the Uvalde City Council, began his presentation by describing the failures by responding local, state and federal officers that day: communication problems, poor training for live shooter situations, lack of available equipment, and delays on breaching the classroom. But Prado also said his review showed that officers showed "immeasurable strength" and "level-headed thinking" as they faced fire from the shooter and refrained from shooting into a darkened classroom, per the AP.

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He said the families that rushed to the school hampered efforts to set up a chain of command as police had to conduct control with parents trying to get in the building or pleading with officers to go inside. "At times they were difficult to control," Prado said. Family members erupted when Prado briefly left after his presentation. "Bring him back!" several shouted. Prado returned and sat and listened when victims' families cried and criticized the report, the council, and the responding officers. "My daughter was left for dead," Ruben Zamorra said. "These police officers signed up to do a job. They didn't do it."

(More Uvalde mass shooting stories.)

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