WASHINGTON – The Justice Department outlined a broad inquiry Wednesday into the delayed police response to the Uvalde, Texas school massacre that left 19 children and two teachers dead in one of the worst campus attacks in U.S. history.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said a team, led by a contingent of outside law enforcement experts, would seek information from all responding police agencies, witnesses and family members
“We have been promised, assured and welcomed by every level of law enforcement,” Garland said.
The attorney general said the inquiry would be “comprehensive, transparent and independent.”
The federal action was requested by Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, as questions about law enforcement’s actions have shrouded the deadly attack.
Justice’s action comes as Congress struggles to address fresh calls for gun control following a series of mass shootings and as parents of a young Uvalde victim recounted the horrific assault before a House committee.
Last month, state police officials outlined a damning account of law enforcement inaction in which authorities waited more than an hour before storming adjoining classrooms at Robb Elementary School to take out the 18-year-old gunman, even as children made repeated 911 calls pleading for help.
Texas Department of Public Safety chief Steven McCraw said the local school district’s police chief, serving as the on-scene commander, waited on reinforcements because he believed the shooter represented no further threat, a decision that may have cost more young lives.
The breakdown immediately recalled past missteps by law enforcement that have haunted responses to similar deadly attacks.
“With the benefit of hindsight, of course, it was the wrong decision,” a shaken McCraw told reporters days after the attack. He said police would try to determine how many died while 19 officers waited outside the locked classroom doors where the gunman continued shooting. “There is no excuse for that.