According to the Gun Violence Archive, 108 mass shootings—including the July 4th massacre in Highland Park, Illinois, wherein Robert E. Crimo III killed seven people and injured at least 46 others—have occurred since the tragedy at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers. And a new, damning report confirms that police actually asked permission to fire on the mass shooter in Uvalde—a striking contrast to, say, the police who immediately shot an unarmed, 25-year-old Black man 60 times during a routine traffic stop in Akron, Ohio, nine days ago.
The Uvalde report, conducted by the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center, evaluated the response of local law enforcement and confirmed that a police officer actually asked for a supervisor’s permission to fire at Ramos prior to entering the school. However, the supervisor did not respond in time, or failed to hear the request, empowering Ramos to enter the school undeterred. Notably, it went on to specifically cite Texas Penal Code, stating that an individual is well within their right to use deadly force when they believe it to be immediately necessary to prevent murder.
“A reasonable officer would conclude in this case, based upon the totality of the circumstances, that use of deadly force was warranted.”
The report details the many missed opportunities to stop Ramos even from the second he was within close proximity of the building. In fact, a Uvalde school district police officer—one of the first responding officers on the scene—completely missed Ramos, who had yet to enter the school from the parking lot, because he was driving at such a “high rate of speed.” The report reasonably suspected that had the officer parked his car near the school and approached on foot, or simply driven slower, he might’ve seen Ramos and been able to prevent him from entering the building.
Again, after Ramos crossed the threshold of Robb Elementary, officers had several opportunities to intercept him before he reached classrooms 111 and 112, where he took the majority of his shots. Much has been said about the school being easy to access given the door Ramos used was left unlocked, though the report notes that even if it had been, gunshots could’ve very easily shattered the glass.
Security footage reveals Ramos entered the first room and then left before entering again, all before officers arrived. Between 11:33am and 11:36 am, the first three minutes he was in the school, he was able to fire 100 rounds. In the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, Police Chief Pete Arredondo told the Texas Tribune that the door on room 111 was locked when checked by officers. However, the report specifies that the lock, which locks from the outside, was “never engaged” at all.
As officers gathered in multiple teams at either end of the hallway, the report notes that though circumstances would’ve been dangerous—even resulting in injury or death (you know, the kind of circumstances police officers sign up for)—law enforcement would’ve likely been able to apprehend Ramos and help the trapped students and faculty in the classrooms to safety more swiftly.
National criticism for the many ways in which law enforcement bungled the shooting has been justifiably relentless, and excuses trotted out by conservatives, cop-apologists, and the like, have been just as persistent. As of now, no member of law enforcement has been fired for their failure to act and collective cowardice. Even more bleak? Legal precedent leaves little room for parents to sue them.
Remember when the widespread—albeit fleeting—movement to defund the police was struck down by the imagined argument that they were necessary to society? Or when “accountability” on the part of law enforcement was promised by Democrats?
Frankly, it cannot be overstated that had the officer acted without permission—the same permission that never seems to be required in even the most mundane situations involving a Black person—there’s a chance that some, perhaps even all, 21 victims might have lived. No amount of “accountability” is sufficient for a system that allows for a reality as consistently cruel as this one.