The final week of faculty at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde developed right into a nightmare on May 24.
In what ought to have been a day of festivities, or eagerness to jump-start the summer season break, 21 lives have been lower quick by an 18-year-old gunman.
Six months in the past, the gunman entered the college and holed himself up in two adjoining lecture rooms, the place he opened fireplace and remained for 77 minutes earlier than legislation enforcement intervened. Two academics and 19 college students died in the assault.
As households grieved, they fought for change as they joined an ever-expanding group they by no means wished to be a part of — family who lost their family members to gun violence.
Since the capturing, legislation enforcement companies opened investigations, media retailers printed harrowing surveillance movies, politicians pushed for tighter gun legal guidelines, and no entity took the blame for the jumbled response. Despite their frustrations and sorrows, victims’ households and their supporters have remained steadfast in their pursuit of accountability.
KSAT will air a one-hour particular report on the six-month anniversary of the Robb Elementary School capturing on Dec. 2 on KSAT 12 and KSAT.com. You can view the particular in this text.
Here’s a look at where we’re at in the aftermath of the shooting.
The ‘determination’ of Lives Robbed
The families of those killed have continued to fight for justice and transparency from the law enforcement officers who responded to the attack but didn’t act.
Lives Robbed — a bunch created by the Cross, Rubio, Cazares and Garza households, who lost their youngsters on May 24 — and supporters have rallied in Uvalde, Austin, Washington D.C. and different cities to deliver consideration to police inactions at Robb Elementary and the gun violence epidemic.
Brett Cross, the guardian of pupil Uziyah Garcia, is one in every of the founders of Lives Robbed and has not backed down in the face of Uvalde CISD, the Department of Public Safety, or different companies.
In October, Cross protested at the Uvalde CISD headquarters for greater than 10 days, demanding that the district droop the officers who stood idly in the hallway as the gunman remained holed up in the lecture rooms.
On Twitter, Cross repeatedly made himself clear: “I’m not going anywhere.”
He didn’t — and after 245 hours, the district determined to droop its complete police drive as “developments” over the bloodbath response emerged.
“245 hr update!!! We did it! And we are going home!” Cross Tweeted when the district introduced the suspension.
Even after that small victory, Lives Robbed shouldn’t be exhibiting any indicators of slowing down.
In a plan for 2023, the group mentioned they’re fundraising to proceed touring to the State Capitol to foyer for accountability and alter. They additionally need to hire legal professionals and contractors.
“We want justice for our children,” a message from the Lives Robbed board states. “We want our children to feel safe in their schools. We want comprehensive gun violence prevention laws. We want social and cultural change, not only for our community, but for our country. We want to see promises that were made to us by our elected officials fulfilled. We want to help our community come back together.”
The group states that they met with elected native and state officers, college board members and Gov. Greg Abbott to debate their issues with college security, however they imagine their questions went unanswered.
“Our anger, our conviction, and our determination drive us to fight for our country, for our community. Most importantly, we fight for our children, for your children, so there are no more Lives Robbed,” the board states.
The group, in addition to Texas Democrats, have requested for the governor to name a particular session to vary gun legal guidelines, however he has but to take action.
What’s occurring with the investigations?
Multiple investigations are nonetheless underway for legislation enforcement companies who responded to the assault.
In an Oct. 27 listening to throughout a Public Safety Commission meeting, DPS Director Steve McCraw mentioned its prison investigation is slated to be completed by the finish of the year.
DPS is investigating the actions of seven of its 91 officers who responded to the capturing. Lt. Col. Jeoff Williams, DPS deputy director of legislation enforcement companies, knowledgeable DPS leaders on July 25 that he really helpful a listing of officers to be positioned beneath investigation.
“The Committee assigned to review the DPS employee response to the Uvalde school shooting has met and reviewed videos and statements. Upon initial review of the material, the Committee has identified actions which may be inconsistent with training and Department requirements. Consequently, I recommend the Office of Inspector General investigate the response/actions of the following officers,” Williams wrote.
DPS redacted the names of the officers, however their identities got here to gentle in studies by KSAT and different media retailers. The checklist included trooper Crimson Elizondo, who resigned from DPS on account of the investigation however was employed as an officer by Uvalde CISD.
The company is reportedly taking motion on these officers pending the final result of every particular person investigation.
That Oct. 27 listening to was the first time victims’ households spoke publicly and face-to-face with McCraw. Parents have urged McCraw and others to resign over the incident, even to his face.
McCraw refused, saying he would solely resign if DPS “as an institution” failed.
Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde, reiterated his beliefs that McCraw and DPS are withholding info from the households.
The City of Uvalde employed an investigator, former Austin Police Department detective Jesse Prado, to evaluate its police division’s actions throughout the capturing, nevertheless it’s unknown when it is going to be completed.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin introduced the formal evaluate this summer season after a blistering report from the Texas House committee detailed a few of the failures in the general response. That Texas House report resulted in lively Uvalde Police chief Lt. Mariano Pargas being positioned on administrative go away.
City officers initially advised residents that the evaluate would take 60-90 days to finish, however McLaughlin just lately advised KSAT that there’s now not a timeline.
Uvalde officers, by means of a spokesperson, mentioned the investigator has been unable to get entry to info from different authorities entities concerned in inspecting the capturing.
When Uvalde CISD suspended its police division in early October, the district mentioned The Texas Police Chiefs Association and JPPI Investigations are nonetheless reviewing the officers’ response. KSAT has reached out for an replace on that evaluate. Prado is the proprietor of JPPI Investigations.
The Texas House particular investigating committee launched a complete report on the response in July after talking with legislation enforcement officers and victims’ family, the shooter’s mobile phone information, watching movies, and listening to audio and testimony.
The report mentioned that the 376 legislation enforcement officers didn’t have clear management, communication and urgency in the bloodbath, and so they as an alternative waited for backup.
While the finger was principally blamed on then-Uvalde CISD police Chief Pete Arrendondo instantly after the tragedy, the report states the failures transcend one individual or entity. Read the complete report right here.
The committee additionally launched a 77-minute video from inside the college.
The 81-page report was the most complete view of what came about main as much as and through the capturing, and six months later, it’s the solely official evaluate detailing the bloodbath and its jumbled response.
KSAT is a part of a media coalition, which incorporates the New York Times, that’s suing DPS, the City of Uvalde, the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office and the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District over unfulfilled public information requests.
A flurry of shakeups in legislation enforcement, district management
Who has been fired or suspended, who has retired, and who has resigned? Despite no official public evaluate from DPS, Uvalde police or Uvalde CISD, the entities are taking motion on the employment standing of some officers or leaders who could have proven wrongdoing.
Uvalde CISD police and City of Uvalde police have since fired their leaders on account of alleged inaction. Here are a few of the shakeups reported by KSAT and media retailers.
- Texas Rangers Chief Chance Collins retired in September amid the investigation, based on Ericka Miller, a spokesperson for DPS. The Texas Rangers is a prison investigation department beneath DPS.
- Ranger Christopher Ryan Kindell, who was beneath evaluate for his response to the capturing, was suspended in October. According to a CNN report, sources mentioned he was suspended as a result of he did not take motion and he had no discussions about choices to breach the classroom, as an individual in his position would have been anticipated to do.
- Sgt. Juan Maldonado, one in every of the first DPS troopers to reach at the scene of the capturing, was fired by DPS in October. Security digicam footage revealed that Maldonado held the door to the college open and stood idly by when one other officer ran out of the constructing bleeding, begging others to go in. Maldonado was accused of not following lively shooter protocol.
- Then-trooper Crimson Elizondo was beneath investigation by DPS when she was employed by Uvalde CISD for its police drive. News of her hiring was first reported by CNN and ABC News in early October after she was acknowledged by dad and mom as being one in every of the first DPS troopers to reach at the scene of the May 24 capturing. On that day, physique cam video confirmed her in her trooper uniform, standing outdoors the college after which briefly strolling in the hallway close to the place the gunman was holed up. She primarily remained outdoors and as soon as the gunman was killed, helped escort different college students outdoors. Body digicam footage captured her saying, “If my son had been in there, I would not have been outside. I promise you that,” CNN reported. She left the company in the summer season and was then employed by UCISD. She was fired from the district on Oct. 6. Since Elizondo left DPS, she is now not topic to any inner self-discipline or penalties.
- The day after Elizondo was fired, Superintendent Hal Harrell introduced his retirement and the district suspended all actions of its police drive. The college board chosen Gary Patterson as the interim whereas the board-approved legislation agency Walsh Gallegos works to search out somebody to fill the position completely. The application window for superintendent closes in March, based on a timeline from the district.
UCISD additionally put Ken Mueller, the director of pupil companies, on administrative go away following the revelation about Elizondo, however he selected to retire.
- Lt. Miguel Hernandez was positioned on administrative go away on Oct. 7 — when the district suspended the police drive — “as a result of the recent developments” concerning Elizondo. Records obtained by KSAT confirmed that Hernandez knew about Elizondo being beneath investigation by DPS, however UCISD employed her anyway. The letter dated July 28 from DPS to Hernandez said Elizondo was beneath investigation for “actions inconsistent with training and Department requirements.” The district apologized “for the pain that this revelation has caused.”
- Pete Arredondo, the police chief for Uvalde CISD, was fired on the three-month anniversary of the capturing. Arredondo took a lot of the preliminary blame as McCraw recognized him as the incident commander who didn’t correctly act. In a Texas Senate listening to in June, McCraw lit into Arredondo, saying: “The only thing stopping a hallway of dedicated officers from entering Room 111 and 112 was the on-scene commander who decided to place the lives of officers before the lives of children.” Arredondo was positioned on go away almost a month after the capturing, at first with pay after which with out. In July, he resigned from City Council (he was secretly sworn in as District 3 councilman on May 31.) A New York Times investigation launched in October confirmed that McCraw’s narrative of Arredondo as the sole scapegoat for the botched response was not correct.
- Ruben Ruiz, the husband of slain trainer Eva Mireles, resigned from UCISD police, the district confirmed on Nov. 20. Officials couldn’t affirm when Ruiz’s resignation grew to become efficient. Ruiz was amongst one in every of the first officers who arrived at Robb Elementary on the day of the mass capturing. Ruiz was seen his cellphone in the surveillance video of the police response throughout the capturing. Mireles had referred to as her husband from inside her classroom, saying she “had been shot and was dying” after the gunman’s assault.
Uvalde Police Department
- Mariano Pargas was the appearing interim Uvalde Police Chief at the time of the bloodbath. Following the launch of the Texas House committee report, the metropolis suspended him as a result of he did not take command, the mayor mentioned in July. “The City has a responsibility to evaluate the response to the incident by the Uvalde Police Department, which includes Lt. Pargas’ role as the acting Chief. This administrative leave is to investigate whether Lt. Pargas was responsible for taking command on May 24th, what specific actions Lt. Pargas took to establish that command, and whether it was even feasible given all the agencies involved and other possible policy violations,” McLaughlin wrote. While he was nonetheless on go away, Pargas campaigned for — and received — his reelection for Uvalde County Commissioner, Precinct 2 on Nov. 8. Nearly per week after election day, CNN launched a report on Pargas’ response to the assault, which confirmed he knew the the classroom the gunman was in was “full of kids.” The mayor hinted that Pargas could be fired, however Pargas retired on Nov. 17, two days earlier than the council was scheduled to debate his employment.
Texas’ gun legal guidelines stay the similar — however lawmakers goal change
Abbott has refused to name a particular session regardless of a number of pushes to take action from Uvalde dad and mom, state Democrats, a handful of state Republicans, Uvalde CISD, Uvalde City Council and Uvalde County Commissioners.
Instead, he convened a particular legislative committee, which has no lawmaking authority, and mentioned he wished to concentrate on psychological well being resources.
The solely method new guidelines or legal guidelines may be made in Texas proper now’s by means of a particular legislative session. The solely individual with the authority to name a particular session is Abbott.
And with the 88th Texas Legislature simply weeks away, the Republican governor shouldn’t be anticipated to name lawmakers to Austin for a particular session.
Since the capturing, state Democrats and Uvalde CISD board members, council members and commissioners requested for the same answer: increase the minimal age to buy a firearm from 18 to 21 years previous.
The Uvalde gunman had simply turned 18 years previous when he legally bought two assault rifles from an area retailer.
If a particular session was to be referred to as, Senate Democrats mentioned in addition they wished to debate common background checks, purple flag legal guidelines, “cooling off” intervals after gun purchases and rules for high-capacity magazines.
While gun legal guidelines aren’t anticipated to vary by the finish of the year, lawmakers have focused the challenge for the 2023 session.
According to the Texas Tribune, Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat who represents Uvalde and has advocated for stricter gun legal guidelines, launched SB 145 that’s associated to elevating the age restrict to buy sure weapons.
Bernal additionally launched HB 244 which may restrict the locations the place an individual could carry a firearm apart from a handgun.
A rally for political change in Uvalde that fell quick
The households rallied for gubernatorial challenger Beto O’Rourke in the mid-term election as they urged state politics to enact stricter gun legal guidelines. But the outcomes from the November election confirmed that native voters weren’t prepared for change.
Despite the tragedy, Uvalde County voters confirmed they overwhelmingly supported Abbott in his reelection — he had 60% of votes — and Republicans in each statewide office.
The few democrats who have been elected have held their seats for a very long time.
Voting information confirmed Pargas, who was initially uncontested for the position he’s held for greater than 15 years, obtained 45% of the vote for Precinct 2 commissioner.
He was challenged by three write-in candidates who mentioned they wished to see a change in Uvalde. One of these candidates was Javier J. Cazares, the father of Jackie, a Robb Elementary sufferer.
Cazares obtained 16% of the vote. Diana Olvedo-Karau and Julio Valdez have been the different write-in challengers.
On election evening, regardless of his loss, Cazares remained hopeful about the way forward for Uvalde.
“Whatever help they need from me and my family, I will help as much as I can,” Cazares mentioned. “I just want them to do the right thing. You know, Uvalde has been stagnant for a long time, win or lose you know I hope this person does the best for our community.”
The way forward for Robb Elementary
The mayor introduced in June that Robb Elementary will probably be closed to college students and workers for the 2022 college year and be demolished.
“We could never ask a child to go back, or a teacher to go back into that school ever,” McLaughlin mentioned throughout a City Council meeting.
The district realigned the campuses so college students and academics who beforehand attended Robb may study and educate at different campuses.
Students in Pre-k by means of second grade moved to Dalton Elementary, college students in third by means of fourth grade moved to Uvalde Elementary, and college students in fifth and sixth grades moved to Flores Elementary, Harrell mentioned.
Teachers, directors and different workers from Robb Elementary moved to Uvalde Elementary.
UCISD put in perimeter fencing in any respect the faculties, due to a $1 million donation by the Las Vegas Raiders, and added safety cameras, upgrades for doorways, door locks and entry factors.
On Nov. 16, the college board selected a web site and design for a brand new elementary college. The Uvalde CISD Moving Forward Foundation and Uvalde CISD Community Advisory Committee agreed for the new college to be constructed close to Dalton and are engaged on fundraising efforts for the campus.
According to the basis, a nonprofit group not affiliated with the district, they’re transferring ahead with the schematic design section of the project. It will maintain college students in grades second by means of fourth.
View Uvalde CISD Moving Forward Foundation’s presentation beneath:
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