UVALDE – “If we need a simple phrase to describe what the report says -- multiple systemic failures.”
After a month and a half of investigating, this is the overall conclusion a three-member Texas House investigatory committee came to after probing what led to the state’s deadliest school shooting -- the Robb Elementary massacre.
On Sunday, the committee released a comprehensive report and a 77-minute video from inside the school that showed heavily armed officers standing in a hallway for more than an hour. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed in the shooting.
Some of the victims’ families were first to review the report and the video on Sunday morning, prior to an afternoon press conference (see full video above.)
Members of the bipartisan committee include state Rep. Dustin Burrows, a Lubbock Republican who is serving as chairman; state Rep. Joe Moody, an El Paso Democrat, and Eva Guzman, a former Texas Supreme Court justice who recently lost a bid for the Republican nomination to Texas Attorney General.
“This committee is a fact-finding committee. Our job was essentially to figure out what the facts were and to report it,” Burrows said. “Today is not the day that we are going to share what our feelings and convictions are.”
Findings in the report were based on interviews with 35 witnesses, crime scene photos, audio and videos, 911 calls, and 39 independent interviews conducted by investigators. The 81-page report is the most comprehensive view of what took place leading up to and during the shooting.
Burrows noted that throughout the report, the committee chose to not name the gunman or show his image.
“He wanted that and he did not deserve it,” Burrows said. “We did not want others to look at these videos to be inspired...”
The committee came to 15 conclusions in their report. You can read their findings here.
Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, who formed the Texas House committee, released a statement Sunday afternoon:
“The interim report released today by the Texas House Investigative Committee on the Robb Elementary Shooting provides some of the most thorough and accurate information released to date surrounding the tragic situation that occurred on May 24 in Uvalde. I thank Chair Burrows and the committee’s other two members, Representative Moody and the Honorable Justice Guzman, for their thoughtful and diligent work — it has provided answers to the people who need it most. With transparency and accuracy as its guiding force, the investigative committee has equipped the Texas House with the facts our chamber needs to continue to respond to this tragedy in the coming months and during the 2023 legislative session. I look forward to conversations with the Select Committee on Youth Health & Safety and Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee on this matter and the robust policy discussions our members will have heading into next year.”
Uvalde’s acting police chief put on administrative leave
Minutes into Sunday’s press conference, Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin announced in a news release that the city’s acting police chief on the day of the Robb Elementary School massacre has been placed on leave, after the report’s findings were made public.
Lt. Mariano Pargas had been placed on administrative leave to determine whether he was responsible for taking command after a gunman entered the school. The city will conduct an internal investigation into the Uvalde Police Department’s response.
Uvalde CISD Police Chief Pete Arredondo is also on administrative leave, after he has faced criticism since the shooting and has largely been blamed as the on-site commander by Department of Public Safety (DPS) officials. However, the City of Uvalde does not have jurisdiction over the school district’s employees.
Victims’ families shown surveillance video ahead of press conference
Earlier on Sunday, families of the Robb Elementary victims were shown the video from inside the school. They also received a copy of the committee’s report.
Burrows, the chair of the committee, said the families will privately be shown the video, which does not include audio.
The 77-minute video includes images captured by surveillance cameras inside the school on May 24. No audio is included.
The video begins after the gunman enters the classroom and ends as law enforcement breach the door more than an hour later.
Dozens of officers can be seen standing in the hallway with high-powered rifles, helmets, body armor and ballistic shields.
According to a DPS condensed timeline released on June 21, 2022, one hour, 14 minutes, and eight seconds pass from the time law enforcement first enters the school to the period where the gunman is killed.
Burrows’ office sent a brief statement on Saturday ahead of the anticipated release.
“Chairman Burrows and his committee colleagues have stated on many occasions that respecting the victim’s families and members of the Uvalde community is of the highest priority. Furthermore, the committee has promised that the video and the report would not be made public until family members had a chance to view both. To that end, the committee will make the report and hallway video available (via email) to the media concurrent with the beginning of the “families” meeting at 2pm CT tomorrow (Sunday). This meeting will be closed press,” wrote Matt Crow, spokesperson for Burrows.
This release comes just days after the Austin American Statesman released the video unexpectedly with audio on Wednesday, July 12.
On Twitter, Representative Burrows expressed his displeasure in the early release of the video.
The committee is aware a portion of the hallway video has been made public. While I am glad that a small portion is now available for the public, I do believe watching the entire segment of law enforcement’s response, or lack thereof, is also important.— Dustin Burrows (@Burrows4TX) July 12, 2022