Hundreds of flowers, toys, and candles surround the crosses in memorial of the 21 victims of the school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, on June 9, 2022.

The crosses at Robb Elementary in Uvalde are surrounded by hundreds of flowers, toys, and candles in remembrance of the 21 people killed in the school massacre.

 

On May 24, 2022, twenty-one persons lost their lives at Robb Elementary. There have been calls for tougher gun legislation following the deadly shooting and the slow police response.

One year ago today, a teenage shooter entered Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School and opened fire, killing 19 students and two teachers, injuring 17, and becoming the bloodiest school shooting in Texas history.

The community of 25,000 people west of San Antonio was simultaneously the centre of the nation’s discussion over semi-automatic guns and thrown into an unimaginable state of mourning.

Since then, state authorities and journalists have conducted investigations and discovered communication and leadership breakdowns in the public safety sector that significantly slowed down medical and law enforcement response times.

Families of the victims of the tragedy have go to the Texas and US Capitols to demand action on gun control to save more killings. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act was approved by federal lawmakers a few weeks after the massacre. The proposal, which included a few minor changes but was the most substantial federal gun bill voted in over three decades, was negotiated by Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. State officials, meanwhile, have mainly concentrated on enhancing school safety and access to mental health care rather than passing their own gun control laws.

Families of the Uvalde victims and several of the shooting survivors have been dealing with loss and suffering for the past year.

Texas Department of Public Safety officers guard the scene at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde on May 24, 2022.

On May 24, 2022, about 400 police from various local, state, and federal law enforcement organisations attended Robb Elementary. Although the shooter was in two connected classrooms with 33 pupils and three teachers, they did not immediately approach him. Despite widespread active shooter guidelines that instruct authorities to stop an assailant as quickly as feasible, the law enforcement officers waited more than an hour for a Border Patrol tactical squad to arrive and enter the classrooms after first being pushed back by gunfire.

Investigations and footage from inside the school have shown that the 376 law enforcement personnel on duty that day lost many chances to stop the shooter due to poor leadership and communication. A report from a Texas House committee alsodiscovered “systemic failures” and disregarded indicators that the shooter could have been preparing a violent assault.

According to documents and video acquired by The Texas Tribune, several police officers inside the school made an attempt to enter the classrooms the gunman had taken over, but they were not supported by other cops.

A police officer responded that they hadn’t gotten such orders after being asked to enter by another irate state trooper. Some of the cops present at the scene appeared to think that Pete Arredondo, the Uvalde school district’s police chief, was in command. Arredondo has stated that he did not believe he was the incident commander overseeing the law enforcement response, despite having at one time given instructions for cops to evacuate other classes. Arredondo was unable to communicate with cops because he had left his police radio behind.

A Tribune investigation of emergency contacts and interviews with law enforcement at the school revealed that cops stayed away from the classrooms because the shooter was using an AR-15-style rifle, a deadly weapon originally intended for military use.

The lighter body armour that police officers often wear while on patrol may be penetrated by rifles like the AR-15 because they have greater power than handguns like standard police pistols. Additionally, they hurt the human body more.

Children arrive to Flores Middle School for the first day of classes in Uvalde on Sept. 6, 2022.
Before a single police officer entered the school, the shooter opened fire at close range with more than 100 bullets in two and a half minutes. 18 of the 21 victims were already deceased when the breach occurred.

An investigation by the Texas Tribune, ProPublica, and Washington Post uncovered moreThe medical response was longer than expected for several casualties, including teacher Eva Mireles, who missed out on life-saving care.

Mireles dialled her husband, district police officer Ruben Ruiz, who attempted to save her by running inside a classroom after hearing that she was bleeding. Colleagues who saw Ruiz coming stopped him and took his pistol.

In addition to communication breakdowns and unclear lines of authority, the fragmented medical response upset medical professionals and slowed down efforts to provide victims with ambulances, air transport, and other emergency services.

Siblings of Xavier Lopez play quietly while the families of the victims of the Uvalde school shooting gather to attend a press conference held by state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, where he introduced four new bills that will address qualified immunity for police officers, allow victims to sue the State of Texas, repeal the protection of the Lawful Commerce in Arms act, and create a permanent compensation fund for victims of school gun violence, at the state Capitol in Austin on Jan. 24, 2023.
For instance, when medical helicopters carrying vital blood supplies attempted to land at the school, they were directed to wait at an airfield three miles away by an unnamed fire department officer. Police camera footage also showed only two ambulances outside the school as other ambulances’ movements were obstructed by scores of parked police cars.

The Uvalde school board dismissed Arredondo in August as a result of the tardy police reaction. In addition, he gave up his position on the Uvalde City Council, which he had just assumed following the school shooting.

Superintendent Hal Harrell resigned in October, and the district’s police force was placed on indefinite suspension. According to the district, Harrell will continue to serve as “superintendent emeritus” through August. The district’s temporary superintendent is identified as Gary Patterson. The district website does not provide any information on the district police. This month, the Tribune reached out to the school system but received no response.

Additionally, after learning that a former Department of Public Safety officer it had recruited was one of the first

police to attend the shooting. Mandy Gutierrez, the principle of Robb Elementary School, was briefly placed on paid administrative leave in July but was soon restored when she refuted criticism of the school’s safety procedures in a report by a state commission.

DPS said in February that it will terminate two officers after finishing an internal review into its officers’ actions. This excluded the district-employed and subsequently dismissed trooper who resigned prior to the investigation’s conclusion.

Families of the 21 victims and other community members in Uvalde had to deal with returning to school and holidays as they processed their loss of loved ones, who were remembered in murals all around the town.

But even as millions of dollars in help and an outpouring of sympathy from individuals across the world flowed in, several families also experienced financial hardship.

There are currently continuing fundraising initiatives to assist families, such as those carried out by the organisation Lives Robbed, which promotes legislation to reduce gun violence. Scholarships established in honour of victims include those for Tess Marie Mata, Alithia Haven Ramirez, Makenna Lee Elrod Seiler, and Jackie Cazares.

Several relatives of gunshot victims whodecided to spend the day at Disney parks instead of spending the anniversary in Uvalde, so they organised fundraisers.

A lot of families became politically involved, showing out in force at Uvalde City Council and school board sessions to demand more school safety and the dismissal of police personnel. Additionally, they went to Austin and Washington, D.C., to lobby legislators to enact stronger gun regulations, such as raising the age requirement for purchasing AR-15-style weapons from 18 to 21. But given that House Bill 2744 missed crucial parliamentary deadlines, it seems doubtful that the legislation would be approved.

Additionally, some Uvalde residents participated in the 2022 elections. Some supported Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate for governor, to unseat Gov. Greg Abbott, and one parent even campaigned for a county seat. Parents and family members continued to lobby the Texas Legislature despite those unsuccessful elections, urging lawmakers to passAdded gun laws during the current spring legislature session. One mother also brought legal action against the Uvalde school district and the maker of the shooter’s weapon.

Since the Uvalde shooting, Abbott and other Texas Republicans have mostly disregarded calls for tighter gun control, putting more of an emphasis on mental health spending and school safety.

Through August 2023, Abbott and state officials declared they will increase school safety and mental health programmes with $100 million in state funding. The majority of the money was used to purchase bulletproof vests for school police personnel as well as quiet panic alarm systems for school districts to use to notify police of an intruder.

In order to close a “boyfriend loophole,” which previously exempted some dating partners from a federal ban on handgun sales for people convicted of domestic violence, Cornyn crafted a federal bill that was passed into law last June with limited gun control provisions. The bill also contained rewards.

urging states to enact “red flag laws,” which permit the temporary seizure of firearms from those deemed dangerous by a court. Texas has not taken any action to enact such a law.

After a plan to do so failed crucial legislative deadlines, Texas lawmakers likewise seem unlikely to raise the minimum age to purchase semi-automatic firearms like the AR-15 from 18 to 21. Advocates for gun safety claim that two legislation relating to firearms that were approved by both chambers of the legislature represent a little step in the right direction.

In order to be included in the federal background check system for purchasing weapons, Senate Bill 728 mandates that courts report adolescents 16 years of age and older who are hospitalised involuntarily for mental health. The bill, which has been forwarded to the governor’s desk, solves a flaw that The Texas Tribune and ProPublica uncovered in the wake of the massacre in Uvalde.

A person would be prohibited under House Bill 2454 from purchasing a firearm on behalf of someone who is not permitted to do so. Although it has been approved by both houses, before the parliamentary session closes on May 29, the House must accept or negotiate any revisions offered by the Senate.

Additionally, legislation has been passed by lawmakers to strengthen campus security, add standards like quiet panic buttons in classrooms, and establish a new safety and security department inside the Texas

Education Bureau. According to a 2020 audit, approximately half of the state’s school districts lacked active-shooter policies. The agency would have the power to require school districts to create these protocols.

As part of legislation for school safety, Texas legislators have also suggested increasing money for mental health programmes in schools. However, school administrators want a distinct funding stream for mental health support because they are concerned that money would be diverted to improve school security. To do this before the current legislative session ends, lawmakers would need to move swiftly, though Abbott has threatened to call a special session if a number of Republican demands aren’t achieved.

In the aftermath of the Uvalde school massacre, Abbott also established a new job for a chief of school safety and security. He also ordered “random intruder audits” of schools to start last autumn in an effort to find security gaps on campuses. The Texas School Safety Centre, a research facility at Texas State University that has long been entrusted with gathering and disseminating information on school safety, was to conduct the inspections.

 

 

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