Residents lash out at city leaders, police after report


A city council report presented Thursday cleared several police officers of wrongdoing in the delayed law enforcement response to a shooting at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school that ended in the deaths of 19 children and two teachers two years ago.

The Uvalde City Council commissioned its own investigation after then-Mayor Don McLaughlin expressed frustration about obtaining information from the Uvalde County District Attorney and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Jesse Prado, an Austin-based investigator and former police detective who wrote the report, said clear communication gaps between Uvalde school district police and other responding officers were certainly to blame.

“There were problems all day long with communication, lack of it, he (former Uvalde school district Police Chief Pete Arredondo) would make phone calls but the officers had no way to know what was being planned or what was being said,” Prado said.

But when it came to the Uvalde city police force — the report’s focus — Prado named several city officers and commanders on the scene and declared that he found no evidence that they committed any wrongdoing or failure to follow training.

Prado said one sergeant showed “immeasurable strength and focus” at the task at hand, despite having a child in the school.

Uvalde residents at the city council meeting lashed out at lawmakers when Prado left the chambers as soon his 45-minute presentation was done. The hall broke into shouts of “bring him back” and “cowards!”

“How do all of you live with yourselves?” said Kimberly Mata-Rubio, who lost her 10-year-old daughter, Alexandria “Lexi” Rubio in the attack.

“How do you go to bed at night and then wake up every day? Shame on you all. You said they did it in good faith? You call that good faith? They stood there for 77 minutes and waited after they got call after call that kids were sill alive in there. All this is, it’s a pact. It’s a brothers pact. You protect your own.”

The father of Uvalde shooting survivor Mayah Zamora sarcastically said he was ready to hand out medals to police after Prado’s presentation.

“My daughter was left for dead,” Ruben Zamora said. “I work in the oil fields, if I don’t do my job I get fired, plain and simple. I signed up for a dangerous job, I know it’s a dangerous job and that’s my job. I got to take care of my job. These police officers signed up to do a job. They didn’t do it.”

In January, the U.S. Department of Justice blamed the law enforcement response on a lack of leadership at the scene and a failure to follow accepted police protocol to aggressively go after an active shooter.

Vincente Salazar Sr. said he refused to believe city police officers didn’t fail his slain granddaughter, Layla Salazar.

“You guys paid somebody to do the investigation … in other words this guy is saying the investigation the DOJ did was wrong,” he told the council. “What kind of respect is that to these families? ” 

Loved ones of the 19 victims, killed on May 24, 2022, at Robb Elementary School, a little more than 80 miles west of downtown San Antonio, have long demanded to know why local authorities stood outside classroom doors during the standoff.

Federal agents from the Customs and Border Protection tactical unit (BORTAC), and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations eventually burst into a classroom and killed the shooter at 12:50 p.m that day.

The first responding officers arrived at Robb Elementary about an hour and 14 minutes before the shooter was killed, state police have said.

City council members said they did not know the contents of Prado’s report before he started speaking Thursday.

“I’m very disappointed. I’m very insulted by this report. The family deserve more, the community deserves more,” council member Hector Luevano said. “We know these families and they deserve a thorough investigation, a thorough explanation. I’m sorry, I don’t accept this report without further explanation and you shouldn’t either.”


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