U.S. Justice Dept. names panel to review Texas school shooting police response


The U.S. Justice Department has named a team of nine people, including an FBI official and former police chiefs, to aid in a review of the law enforcement response to the Uvalde, Texas, elementary school shooting that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the team during a meeting in his office in Washington on Wednesday. The critical incident review is being led by the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

The review will include an examination of police policies, training and communication, along with the deployment of officers and tactics, the Justice Department said. It will also examine who was in command of the incident and how police prepared for potential active-shooter incidents.

In a statement, the Justice Department said it was committed to “moving as expeditiously as possible in the development of the report.” Officials said the team would conduct a complete reconstruction of the shooting; review all relevant documents, including policies, photos and videos; conduct a visit to the school; and interview an array of witnesses and families of the victims, along with police, school and government officials.

“Nothing can undo the pain that has been inflicted on the loved ones of the victims, the survivors and the entire community of Uvalde,” Garland said in a statement. “But the Justice Department can and will use its expertise and independence to assess what happened and to provide guidance moving forward.”

Review requested by Uvalde mayor

The review was requested by Uvalde’s mayor. Such a review is somewhat rare, and most after-action reports that come after a mass shooting are generally compiled by local law enforcement agencies or outside groups.

The Justice Department conducted similar reviews after 14 people were killed in a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., in 2015 and after the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Fla., the deadliest attack on the LGBTQ community in U.S. history, which left 49 people dead and 53 people wounded in 2016.

WATCH | Uvalde survivor describes how she stayed alive:

Texas school shooting survivor gives graphic evidence before committee

This video contains content some viewers might find distressing. Miah Cerrillo, a fourth-grade student who survived the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, described how she avoided the gunman as he was killing her classmates.

The Justice Department said the nine officials on the team in the Uvalde case had been selected for their expertise in law enforcement, emergency management, active shooter response, school safety and other areas. The team includes the former chief of the Sacramento, Calif., Police Department, a deputy chief who worked at Virginia Tech, the sheriff in Orange County, Fla., an FBI unit chief and other officials.

The 19 students and two teachers were killed at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde two weeks ago. Law enforcement and state officials have struggled to present an accurate timeline and details, and they have stopped releasing information about the police response.

The 18-year-old gunman spent roughly 80 minutes inside Robb Elementary, and more than an hour passed from when the first officers followed him into the building and when he was killed, according to an official timeline. In the meantime, parents outside begged police to rush in, and panicked children called 911 from inside.

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