New report on Uvalde shooting details ‘epic failure’ of law enforcement

A Texas House committee investigating the Uvalde elementary school massacre released a 77-page report Sunday detailing “egregiously poor decision making” by law enforcement. The report found 376 officers responded that day, representing 20 different agencies. But there was a lack of effective incident command. Austin American-Statesman reporter Tony Plohetski joins Amna Nawaz to discuss.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    I'm joined now by Tony Plohetski. He's an investigative reporter for The Austin-American Statesman, who has closely covered the Robb Elementary shooting and its fallout since that tragic day.

    Tony, welcome back to the "NewsHour." Thank you for joining us.

    As we mentioned, you have covered this from the beginning. So what stands out to you from this report? What's news to you?

  • Tony Plohetski, The Austin-American Statesman:

    I think this report is filled with so many wrenching revelations.

    And it really does paint the most complete picture of what happened that horrible day. Keep in mind that, over the past seven-and-a-half weeks, we have gotten information in dribs and drabs. And, unfortunately, so much of that information has proven to be false. And authorities have found themselves having to amend statements or correct them, or, in some cases, throw them out altogether.

    So, the fact that we now have a written report that is based on the testimony of dozens of people, including many law enforcement officials there, it really does paint the scene.

    Tragically, though, the more information we learn from going through this report, it really is renewing so much pain and so much loss for the families of Uvalde. And it really does show just such an epic failure of law enforcement in responding to everything that was going on that day.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    You know, Tony, when you think back to those early days, I remember so much focus, especially from state officials, pointing the blame at Uvalde police, specifically the school district police chief, Pete Arredondo, whose name we have heard so much now.

    But this report shows there were multiple failures by multiple officers from multiple agencies. And we need to stress officials have known about this for weeks. So why are we just learning about that part of it now?

  • Tony Plohetski:

    Well, certainly, there has been a narrative that, frankly, has been nurtured, which is that the responding officers were from a small town, they were out of their depth, they truly were the ones who did not respond appropriately.

    But, to your point, we now know from this report that there were law enforcement agencies there at the state level, as well as the federal level, including the Texas Department of Public Safety. The Border Patrol was also on the ground there as well. And, as a matter of fact, this report makes it clear that the majority of the police officers who responded to the school were in fact state and federal law enforcement.

    So the idea that this was just a small-town problem really does get thrown out when you consider the number of officers who were there, and from the — all of the different agencies, the multitude of agencies.

    And I think today, as we continue to make sense of all of this, it only serves to deepen the question about law enforcement training and law enforcement response for active shooter situations like this one.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Tony, I'm sure this is small comfort for the families who had to bury children, bury loved ones, many of them forever traumatized, even if they survived.

    We know many of them are raising concerns about a potential cover-up as well. How has this report fed any of those narratives? And how are they responding to these latest revelations?

  • Tony Plohetski:

    Certainly, among those 21 families and the people of Uvalde, there's no real uniform response from this information.

    But I can certainly tell you that many people within that town are very, very angry. They are heartbroken. This has renewed their grief, but also, at the same time, I think many of them are also taking some solace, if that is even possible, in knowing the facts, as difficult as they are to comprehend and make sense of.

    Many of them are taking some comfort in knowing what happened that terrible day and not having just all of these unanswered questions out there.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Tony, briefly, if you can, what about accountability? I mean, we know the school district police chief has been put on leave. The mayor's also put the acting police chief for the city on leave.

    Do we know what happens next?

  • Tony Plohetski:

    That's a question that we have been in fact asking today.

    We know that the Texas Department of Public Safety has also created an internal committee to look at the response of its officers. But we are actually in the process of polling all of the agencies now to see if they will similarly do an internal review of officers' actions.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That is Tony Plohetski of The Austin-American Statesman, who has been following that massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

    Tony, thank you for joining us.

  • Tony Plohetski:

    Thank you.

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