Investigation could reveal police’s time lapse in Uwald’s death

Since the Columbine High School massacre more than 20 years ago, police have been trained to quickly confront gunmen in the horrific attacks that ensued.

but officials Uwald, Texas, It took more than an hour to kill a gunman who slaughtered 19 children in what may well be a key part of the Justice Department’s investigation into the police response.

Rare federal scrutiny comes amid growing, distressed problem and transfer police information. Authorities now say that two minutes after the suspected gunman, Salvador Ramos, several officers entered the elementary school and exchanged fire with him, but he was not stopped until a tactical team entered the classroom more than an hour later.

It’s a confusing timeline for law enforcement experts like Jarrod Burguan, a former police chief in San Bernardino, Calif., when the city was hit by a terror attack in 2015 that killed 14 people die. Police entered the facility, which is a training center for residents with medical conditions. Developmental disability, within two minutes of arrival.

“Columbine changed everything,” Burguan said Monday. Police are now trained to form and enter buildings as quickly as possible to confront the shooters to prevent them from killing more people. “This has been drilled in the industry for many years.”

Justice Department officials investigating the Texas killings will review a series of questions about Uwald’s police response. A similar review, largely praising the response to the San Bernardino mass shooting, ran more than 100 pages.

Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said in announcing the review that it will be conducted in a fair, impartial and independent manner and that the findings will be made public. This may take several months. Handling the review is the department’s Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services.

A key question for Maria Haberfield, a professor at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, is why the school district police chief has the power to tell a dozen officers to wait in the hallways of Uvald Robb Elementary School.

“The key question for me is, who named him in charge?” she said.

Officials said he believed the suspect was being held in an adjoining classroom and there was no longer an active threat. But school officers often don’t have the most experience with shooters, and Haberfield questioned why someone with more specialized training wasn’t taking over.

A U.S. Border Patrol tactical squad finally used a janitor’s key to open the classroom door and kill the gunman, raising more questions about access options.

“It’s not a medieval fortified castle. It’s a door,” she said. “They know what to do. You don’t need a key.”

Judicial review does not investigate the crime itself, nor does it directly hold the police civil or criminal. Saul Els, executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association, said it may examine issues such as the way police are communicated. It was unclear why school principal Pete Arredondo believed the gunman was blocked, and he did not comment.

“I think we need to be a little bit patient with this and wait to make sure we understand what that mindset is,” Eells said. “It goes back to communication. What intelligence do they have?”

The review may also examine officers’ readiness for equipment such as weapons and body armor. The shooter wears a tactical vest and holds an AR-15-style rifle, a powerful weapon capable of piercing through basic bulletproof vests.

In previous shootings reviewed by the Justice Department, lay law enforcement units did not have the kind of body armor they needed to adequately protect themselves.

A detective at the scene of the 2016 massacre in the LGBT community at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which killed 49 and injured dozens more, exchanged fire with a suspect because he knew his pistol was “incompatible” with the weapon being fired. club. Nonetheless, the first officers at the scene reportedly formed a team and quickly entered the club to begin searching for the shooter.

Meanwhile, in San Bernardino, only one of the first officers at the scene had a shotgun, and several others were without body armor. But they still used their training on the active shooter situation to form a four-man squad that immediately entered the complex.

Acting quickly is important, not only to stop the shooter from killing more people, but also to help the wounded. In San Bernardino and Orlando, Justice Department comments praised rapid response to transport casualties to treatment during “prime time” when victims are most likely to survive.

It’s unclear what impact the delay in entering Texas classrooms might have on any children injured and in need of medical treatment more than an hour away from San Antonio.

Police do have to quickly analyse the risks to themselves and others in violent, rapidly changing situations – but they are also trained to prevent people from getting hurt, Eells said.

“It was very, very, very dangerous to go into that room,” he said. “But we will knowingly and voluntarily take this risk because our priority is to help those who cannot help themselves.”

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Whitehurst reported from Salt Lake City. Associated Press writer Gary Fields in Washington contributed to this report.

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More on the shooting at the Uwald, Texas school: https://apnews.com/hub/uvalde-school-shooting

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