An emergency management official for Uvalde County, Forrest Anderson, told the newspaper that the radio system was implemented over two decades ago and was not designed to work well inside structures with a metal roof and thick walls. Simultaneous use of the radios also made matters worse.
Anderson explained to the WSJ that systems for more densely populated areas would work better in such a building, but it would have been impractical to install such infrastructure in sprawling Uvalde County and surrounding areas.
In fact, state Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) commented to the Associated Press last week that Chief Pete Arredondo, the head of the Uvalde school district’s police force, did not even have a radio with him when he was on scene at the school during the shooting.
On Tuesday, May 24, police say an 18-year-old gunman entered Robb Elementary School with an AR-15 style rifle and murdered 19 schoolchildren and two teachers. He reportedly injured 17 others. Nearly an hour and a half after the perpetrator entered the school and began shooting, a tactical unit of border guards confronted and killed him, according to the latest official timeline.
Public officials and others have criticized Arredondo and other law enforcement for failing to confront the gunman sooner.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced last week that it would conduct an inquiry into the police response to the shooting.
The DOJ disclosed additional details in a news release on Wednesday regarding the inquiry, which will be conducted by the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
The department provided the following list of “subject matter experts” who will assist investigators:
- Retired Chief Rick Braziel of Sacramento, California
- Retired Deputy Chief Gene Deisinger of Virginia Tech
- Retired Director of Public Safety Frank Fernandez of Coral Gables, Florida
- Federal Bureau of Investigation Unit Chief Albert Guarnieri
- Retired Major Mark Lomax of the Pennsylvania State Police
- Chief Executive Officers Laura McElroy of McElroy Media Group
- Sheriff John Mina of Orange County, Florida
- Assistant Vice President April Naturale of Vibrant Emotional Health, which is located in New York City, New York.
- Retired Chief Kristen Ziman of Aurora, Illinois
The investigation will include “a complete incident reconstruction” and interviews with law enforcement, witnesses, and others.
Attorney General Merrick B. Garland commented on the critical incident review.
“Nothing can undo the pain that has been inflicted on the loved ones of the victims, the survivors, and the entire community of Uvalde,” Garland said. “But the Justice Department can and will use its expertise and independence to assess what happened and to provide guidance moving forward.”
Uvalde school district officials stated last week that students will not return to the campus of Robb Elementary School next year.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."