WASHINGTON – The Justice Department has named a team of nine people, including an FBI official and former police chiefs, to help review the law enforcement response Uvalde, Texas elementary school shooting 19 children and two teachers died.
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the team Wednesday at a meeting at his Washington office. The Critical Incident Review is managed by the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
The review will include an examination of police policy, training and communications, and the use of officers and tactics, the Justice Department said. It is also looking into who was in charge of the incident and how police prepared for possible incidents involving active gunmen.
In a statement, the Justice Department said it was committed to “proceeding as expeditiously as possible in developing the report.” Officials said the team will conduct a full reconstruction of the shooting and review all relevant documents, including guidelines, photos and videos; conduct a visit to the school; and interviewing a number of witnesses and victims’ families, as well as police, school and government officials.
“Nothing can undo the pain inflicted on the families 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 provide guidance for the future.”
The review was requested by the mayor of Uvalde. Such verification is fairly rare, and most of the follow-up reports that come after a mass shooting are generally compiled by local law enforcement or outside groups. The Justice Department conducted similar reviews after a 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, killed 14 people and the mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, the deadliest attack on the LGBTQ community in U.S. history went 49 dead and 53 injured in 2016.
The Justice Department said the nine officers on the team in the Uvalde case were selected for their expertise in law enforcement, emergency management, active shooter response, school security and other areas. The team includes the former Sacramento, California police chief, an assistant police chief who worked at Virginia Tech, the Orange County, Florida sheriff, an FBI unit chief, and other officials.
Two weeks ago, 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde were killed. Law enforcement and state officials have struggled to provide a precise timeline and details, and have stopped releasing information about the police response.
The shooter, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, spent approximately 80 minutes at 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. Meanwhile, outside, the parents asked the police to rush in and panicked children called 911 from inside.
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