The US Department of Justice says it will investigate the police response to last week’s mass shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas, which killed 19 children and two teachers.
“The goal of the review is to provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses that day, and to identify lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare for and respond to active shooter events,” DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement.
Public anger is growing, and the police have come under severe criticism after it emerged that officers waited in the hallway as children trapped with the shooter made desperate 911 calls.
The gunman spent more than an hour inside the school before he was ultimately killed by a tactical unit of Border Patrol agents, despite officers being on the scene for much of the attack.
Col. Steven McCraw of the Texas Department of Public Safety said at a Friday news conference that there were as many as 19 local and federal officers in the hallway during much of the shooting, but the commander on scene decided not to immediately go into the classroom because he believed the shooter had barricaded himself inside and no other people were at risk.
At least two students hiding in the classroom called 911 for help during the course of the shooting.
“It was the wrong decision. Period. There was no excuse for that,” said McCraw. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said during the press conference that he had been “misled” about the police response and expects a full investigation.
The DOJ inquiry comes at the request of Uvalde’s mayor, Don McLaughlin, the department said. The Office of Community Oriented Policing will conduct the review and publish a report with its findings after the review concludes, the department said.
In Uvalde, President Joe Biden met the victims’ families on Sunday. Both Joe Biden and Jill Biden were seen wiping tears from beneath their sunglasses. Jill Biden touched each child’s photo in turn.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE GUARDIAN
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