A grand jury has convened in Uvalde to consider charges against police officers, a day after they were condemned in a blistering Justice Department report for their “epic failure” in response to the massacre that killed 19 students and two teachers.
The 12-member special jury was seated Friday to consider whether any of the nearly 400 police officers who responded to the May 24, 2022 shooting and waited 77 minutes before killing the Robb Elementary School shooter should be criminally charged. the Uvalde leader reported. News.
Jurors are expected to spend at least six months reviewing evidence.
“My office continues to methodically and systematically investigate the Texas Rangers investigation, which I have had control over for less than a year,” local district attorney Christina Mitchell told the local newspaper.
Police Chief Pete Arredondo left. Police action in a hallway after Salvador Ramos entered Robb Elementary School to kill 19 children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, USA, May 24, 2022
Pedro “Pete” Arredondo, the Uvalde school police chief who led the flawed law enforcement response to the Uvalde school shooting, has been fired
The victims of the Uvalde school shooting on May 24, 2022 included 19 students and two teachers
“I want to ensure that our efforts in this process are thorough, deliberate and fair.” “I am always mindful of my responsibilities to the victims, their families, those under a cloud of allegations, and our community.”
Parents of the children murdered during the school massacre are calling for police officers who allowed their children to die to be charged.
“It’s time to spend time,” tweeted Brett Cross, whose son Uziyah “Uzi” Garcia was among the 19 students and two teachers killed.
“As I said at the press conference yesterday, I hope this lights a fire under their eyes, and that seems to be the case. “Thank you @dojphofficial!!!”
Students who had been shot and were trapped in two classrooms called out the gunman and called 911 while police waited outside for backup.
Law enforcement waited 77 minutes before intervening in the school massacre
From the hallway directly outside the two classrooms where a gunman killed children, school district police officer Pete Arredondo shielded himself from gunfire without helping the fourth-graders who had been shot inside
The DOJ report named several officials, including the school district's former police chief, Pete Arredondo, who served as incident commander.
In the aftermath and anger over the botched police response, Arredondo claimed he was never appointed commander.
However, it was clear from the DOJ report that, according to generally accepted police procedures, Arrendondo was the person responsible for the police response because he was among the first officers to arrive, knew the school and was the head of the department.
At Arredondo's direction, other officers who wanted to confront the shooter were ordered to stand down, including an officer whose wife was in the classrooms where bullets were flying.
The report detailed that while acknowledging the likelihood that children were still living in the room, he “deliberately prioritized evacuations over immediate break-in and entry into the room.”
Uvalde residents who lost loved ones in the shooting have been calling for the firing and prosecution of the police officers involved for nearly two years. No one has been charged yet
City police Lt. Mariano Pargas was singled out in the new DOJ report for his catastrophic lack of leadership during the mass shooting
Uvalde County Sheriff Ruben Nolasco (left) is comforted by Ted Cruz. Nolasco was criticized for his catastrophic lack of leadership during the mass shooting
“This is contrary to the principles of active shooter response, which state that the priority is to address and eliminate the threat,” the report continued.
Uvalde Police Chief Mariano Pargas and Uvalde County Sheriff Ruben Nolasco were all cited for lack of competency.
The DOJ said Sheriff Nolasco failed to share key information about the shooter that he learned from relatives and did not assign anyone to the investigation.
The report continued, “At one point, Sheriff Nolasco and Acting UPD Chief Pargas were less than 10 to 15 feet apart outside the exterior door of the northwest hallway.”
Christina Mitchell Busbee, 38th District Attorney, speaks during a press conference about the mass shooting at Uvalde High School on May 27, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas
Brett Cross (center), father of Uziyah Garcia, who died during the mass shooting, was one of the most vocal parents calling for accountability for the officers involved in the botched police response
U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland speaks during a news conference in Uvalde, where he and other top federal prosecutors personally presented their report to the victims' families
“However, they did not coordinate with each other and continued to act independently.”
“Without proper leadership and control, a game warden and a police officer took on roles traditionally performed by an incident commander.”
“On the day of the incident, no leader effectively challenged the decisions and lack of urgency of UCISD PD Chief Arredondo and Acting UPD Chief Pargas regarding access to Classrooms 111/112.”
Jurors are expected to meet twice a month to hear testimony and study evidence.
Once their review is complete, they should make a recommendation and possibly issue a report on their findings.
The district attorney could decide to indict the police, or the case would be presented to a regular grand jury.