Families of Robb Elementary shooting victims respond to blistering DOJ report on law enforcement response

The DOJ report comes 20 months after the shooting took 21 lives at Robb Elementary

UVALDE – Families of the victims of the 2022 Robb Elementary School shooting are speaking out following the U.S. Department of Justice report on the law enforcement response to the massacre.

Families will hold a press conference at noon on Thursday from Uvalde following the DOJ’s media briefing. You can watch a livestream of their response in this article.

The DOJ’s Critical Incident Review was privately presented to the families of the 21 victims Wednesday evening before it was released to the public.

Berlinda Arreola, step-grandmother to Amerie Jo Garza, and Brett Cross, Uziyah Garcia’s guardian, told KSAT they hope the DOJ’s report names those responsible for the failure to act in the 77 minutes it took to take down the gunman.

“I’m hoping that it’s different from every one of the other reports that have came out, and then nothing has happened. I’m hoping that it will light a fire up under the DA to actually get out and do something,” Cross said.

In December, it was confirmed that the DA would not be seating a grand jury before the spring of 2024, edging closer to the two-year mark of the shooting at Robb Elementary.

Arreola and Cross say there’s a mix of emotions with the DOJ’s report and what closure it could bring, if any.

“If the recommendations are in there for charges to be filed, are they going to be filed? That is the question,” Arreola said.

She has described this report as a baby step on their path to healing, but they’ll forever be stuck on May 24, 2022.

In an interview with ABC News, Javier Cazares, the father of Jacklyn “Jackie” Cazares said he hopes the report leads to people being held accountable.

“To me, it’s always doing the right thing regardless of how painful it might be or how much pressure you get,” Cazares said.

He said he hopes the report starts a chain effect of real change among the law enforcement agencies.

Veronica Mata, the mother of Tess Mata told ABC News that the report will be a document that backs up what the parents have been telling the community.

“Now I can go back and talk to Tess at Robb or at the cemetery and say, ‘Hey mija, it’s moving in the right direction. There’s accountability, justice is coming, there’s accountability now the report is out.’ And you know the people in Uvalde they’re going to see. They’re going to see what we’ve been telling them all along,” Mata said.

Tess’ sister, Faith, said she wants the officers to know they failed.

“They had the chance to take a stand and be men,” said Faith Mata. “My sister died in that classroom along with her friends and teachers. They didn’t have a choice. These grown men had a choice in their actions and they chose wrong. And now it’s time for them to know that they failed.”

Uvalde CISD superintendent Ashley Chohlis said the district would have additional counseling services available for students and staff at its campuses when the report is released.

Find more Uvalde news on KSAT.com here

About the Authors

Leigh Waldman is an investigative reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Joe Arredondo is a photojournalist at KSAT 12.

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