Police Response to Uvalde Elementary School Shooting Beset by ‘Cascading Failures’ and ‘No Urgency,’ DOJ Report Finds

A Justice Department report on the 2022 Robb Elementary shooting in Uvalde, Texas found the police response “demonstrated no urgency” and that “cascading failures” contributed to the high death toll.


A Justice Department report on the 2022 Robb Elementary shooting in Uvalde, Texas found the police response “demonstrated no urgency” and that “cascading failures” contributed to the high death toll.

  • “The victims and survivors of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School deserved better,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland in a statement accompanying the report’s release.
  • Garland continued, “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.”
  • Two adults and 19 children were killed in the mass shooting, with nearly all victims concentrated in two fourth-grade classrooms where the shooter was allowed to continue to inflict pain and death upon his victims for over an hour while nearly 400 police waited outside and did nothing.
  • This comprehensive failure resulted in “33 students and three of their teachers — many of whom had been shot” being “trapped in a room with an active shooter for over an hour as law enforcement officials remained outside,” Garland added.
  • The more than 400-page report found the police’s lack of “urgency” in setting up a command center outside the school and failure to treat the attack as an active shooter situation directly contributed to unnecessary deaths of children inside Robb Elementary.
  • The DOJ report identified “a vast array of problems from failed communication and leadership to inadequate technology and training” that created a perfect storm of incompetence – and according to many Uvalde residents, cowardice – that contributed to the killings of children and their teachers.


reporting from the left side of the aisle


  • The Washington Post emphasized one particularly infuriating detail from the report: during the officers’ 77-minute delay between arriving on the scene and confronting the mass child murderer, “police officers spent about 40 minutes searching for a key to a shared classroom space that, the federal reviewers concluded, was probably unlocked the entire time.”
  • NBC News reported that “Uvalde police officers had received improper active shooter training in the months leading up to the attack. They were erroneously taught that ‘an active shooter event can easily morph into a hostage crisis.’” The attack “should have triggered several coordinated responses by law enforcement officers” but the lack of leadership hobbled their response.
  • “The federal report, compiled from 260 interviews and nearly 15,000 documents and videos, represents the most comprehensive assessment of a killing spree that helped spur passage of new federal gun control legislation and continues to haunt a community traumatized by the slaughter and the inadequacy of the police response,” the New York Times observed. “Some of the families of those killed and wounded, who were briefed on the findings hours before the report was released, expressed mixed feelings about the report. Some had hoped the department would bring federal criminal charges against any local officials found to be responsible for the confused and ineffective response.”



  • National Review highlighted what the DOJ identified as the ““single most critical tactical failure” of the police response: the wrong decision to identify the mass shooter as a “barricaded suspect” rather than an “active shooter.” The report adds, “Officers on scene should have recognized the incident as an active shooter scenario and moved and pushed forward immediately and continuously toward the threat until the room was entered, and the threat was eliminated. That did not occur.”
  • Fox News pointed out the leader who made that “most significant failure” of the police response – the incorrect identification as a “barricaded suspect” was ex-Uvalde School District police chief Pete Arredondo. Arredondo was fired weeks after the shooting.
  • The New York Post noted the report did not cover any potential criminal charges for the police officers or leaders who responded to the mass shooting. However, “local prosecutors are still evaluating a separate criminal investigation by the Texas Rangers,” so indictments are still a possibility.


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© Dominic Moore, 2023