By JAKE BLEIBERG and PAUL J. WEBER
UVALDE, Texas (AP) — Nearly 400 law enforcement officials rushed to mass shooting that left 21 people dead at a Uvalde elementary school but “systemic failures” created a chaotic scene that lasted more than an hour before the gunman was finally confronted and killed, according to a report from investigators released Sunday.
The nearly 80-page report obtained by multiple media outlets is the first to criticize both state and federal law enforcement, and not just local authorities in Uvalde, Texas, for the bewildering inaction by officers who massed in the hallway at Robb Elementary School.
The report was written by an investigative committee from the Texas House of Representatives and released to family members Sunday.
The findings are the most complete account yet of the May 24 massacre in South Texas and the hesitant and haphazard response by heavily armed law enforcement as a gunman fired inside a fourth-grade classroom.
According to the Texas Tribune, which reviewed the report ahead of its scheduled release to the public later Sunday, the overwhelming majority of responders at the school were federal and state law enforcement. That included nearly 150 U.S. Border Patrol agents and 91 state police officials, according to the Tribune.
The report by an investigative committee led by the Texas House of Representatives follows weeks of closed-door interviews with more than 40 people, including witnesses and law enforcement who were on the scene of the shooting.
The committee had scheduled a private meeting with Uvalde families to discuss their findings before releasing the report to the public.
Flowers that had been piled high in the city’s central square had been removed as of Sunday, leaving a few stuffed animal maps scattered around the fountains alongside photos of some of the children who were killed.
A nearly 80-minute hallway surveillance video published by the Austin American-Statesman this week publicly showed for the first time a hesitant and haphazard tactical response, which the head of Texas’ state police has condemned as a failure and some Uvalde residents have blasted as cowardly.
Calls for police accountability have grown in Uvalde since the shooting. So far, only one officer from the scene of the deadliest school shooting in Texas history is known to be on leave.
The report is the result of one of several investigations into the shooting, including another led by the Justice Department. A report earlier this month by tactical experts at Texas State University alleged that a Uvalde police officer had a chance to stop the gunman before he went inside the school armed with an AR-15.
But in an example of the conflicting statements and disputed accounts since the shooting, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin has said that never happened. That report had been done at the request of the Texas Department of Public Safety, which McLaughlin has increasingly criticized and accused of trying to minimize the role of its troopers during the massacre.
Steve McCraw, the head of Texas DPS, has called the police response an abject failure.
Weber reported from Austin, Texas.
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