Witnesses, Video Suggest Stunning Inaction From Uvalde Cops During School Shooting

Cops waited outside while shooter killed students. In yesterday’s Roundup, I suggested that while everyone was looking for larger forces to blame, the only real villain in the shooting at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school that left more than 20 people dead was the shooter himself. But I was wrong. Video and witness accounts from outside Uvalde’s Robb Elementary School suggest local police officers not only failed to try and stop the shooter for an unconscionably long time but also actively prevented parents from trying to save their kids.

The shooter—Salvador Ramos—was inside the school for 40 minutes or more while police stood around outside, the Associated Press reports. “Frustrated onlookers urged police officers to charge into the Texas elementary school,” but the officers reportedly waited outside until a SWAT team was ready.

How many lives could have been saved if the cops had acted sooner? If they had bravely put their lives on the line instead of letting elementary school children and teachers fend for themselves against an armed madman for nearly an hour?

Instead, witnesses say the cops stood guard outside the school, preventing parents from rushing in to try and stop the shooter themselves:

Javier Cazares, whose fourth grade daughter, Jacklyn Cazares, was killed in the attack, said he raced to the school when he heard about the shooting, arriving while police were still gathered outside the building.

Upset that police were not moving in, he raised the idea of ​​charging into the school with several other bystanders.

“Let’s just rush in because the cops aren’t doing anything like they are supposed to,” he said. “More could have been done.”

Video taken by Hugo Cervantes shows cops corralling parents outside the school, even pinning one man down. (It’s unclear at what point in the ordeal this video was taken.)

Keeping people from rushing into an active shooter scene is typical police practice, of course. But it takes on a sinister tone when police themselves are failing to intervene.

A school cop allegedly encountered the shooter on his way into the school but was unable to stop him.

Officials say [Ramos] ‘encountered’ a school district security officer outside the school, though there were conflicting reports from authorities on whether the men exchanged gunfire,” notes the AP

From inside, Ramos shot at and injured two officers outside the building, according to a Texas Department of Public Safety official. (“Officials have said repeatedly that they sustained just minor injuries,” notes Vice.) After that, local police apparently decided to wait until a tactical team could be put together before going in.

In the wake of tragedies like this, people often suggest that what we need is more security—more police in schools, more police in general. But this isn’t even the first school shooting where school law enforcement failed to act. How can more school cops help if we can’t even trust them to do their jobs when they’re needed most?

Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said somewhere between 40 minutes and an hour went by between the time Ramos encountered the school security officer and when he was killed by the tactical team that included Border Patrol agents. (“But I don’t want to give you a particular timeline,” McCraw told reporters.)

Over the course of those 40 minutes to an hour, Ramos barricaded himself inside a classroom and started shooting those within it. All of the children and teachers Ramos killed were in that one classroom, a Department of Public Safety spokesperson told CNN on Wednesday morning.

“A law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said the Border Patrol agents had trouble breaching the classroom door and had to get a staff member to open the room with a key,” the AP reports.

Uvalde is a relatively small town—just 16,000 or so residents. Yet it has its own SWAT team, as Radley Balko pointed out on Twitter. Police departments justify the need for such heavy-duty teams by warning about scenarios like this and the need to act quickly in them. And yet here we are.

As of now, no one has any idea why Ramos went on this abominable rampage, leaving 21 people dead and at least 17 others injured. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Ramos was not known to have a criminal record or mental health issues in his history.


FOLLOW-UP

Oklahoma governor signs near-total ban on abortion into law. “Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday signed into law the nation’s strictest abortion ban, making the first state in the nation to effectively end availability of the procedure,” ABC News reports.

“I promised Oklahomans that as governor I would sign every piece of pro-life legislation that came across my desk and I am proud to keep that promise today,” said Stitt in a statement. “From the moment life begins at conception is when we have a responsibility as human beings to do everything we can protect that baby’s life and the life of the mother.”

More about the law—which cleared the state’s House of Representatives back in March—here. Like the controversial six-week abortion ban enacted by Texas last year, Oklahoma’s ban is to be enforced through lawsuits by private actors. It allows suits against anyone who “performs or induces” an abortion, as well as anyone who “aids or abets the performance” of an abortion.


FREE MINDS

Biden issues criminal justice reform order. President Joe Biden has signed an executive order limiting federal law enforcement’s use of chokeholds and no-knock warrants, adopting new body-camera policies, establishing a national database to track police misconduct, and restricting the transfer of military equipment to police departments. The order also tells federal law enforcement to use deadly force only “when necessary, that is, when the officer has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person. ” And it says federal cops must intervene if they see colleagues using excessive force or committing other violations constitutional.

“Although the order will have some noticeable impacts on federal law enforcement, it will have much less power over the roughly 18,000 state and local police departments across the US, where the vast majority of policing occurs,” Reason‘s CJ Ciaramella points out:

The federal government can only nudge these departments toward its preferred policies by offering grants for complying agencies, or withholding grants from those that refuse to adapt. That’s why the FBI has struggled to build a national police use-of-force database; police departments simply don’t have to participate.

For example, all federal law agencies will be required to participate in the misconduct database, but the White House press release only notes that state and local agencies enforcement “are encouraged to enter their records as well.”

As much as some would like to believe that the president can solve America’s policing woes with the stroke of a pen, true efforts to improve police accountability and curb misconduct will have to be fought state by state, county by county, and town by town.


FREE MARKETS

Klobuchar antitrust bill is back, and still a mess. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.) has introduced an updated version of an antitrust bill (the American Innovation and Choice Online Act, initially proposed in January) and it’s not any better than the previous version, experts say.

The bill makes zero changes to its heart – the ban on vertical integration that would effectively ban or degrade Amazon Prime, Amazon Basics, Google maps in search results, and Apple apps on iPhones,” points out Chamber of Progress founder and CEO Adam Kovacevich. “The bill also still effectively bans content moderation, through its language on ‘similarly located business users.”‘

The bill’sworst attributes remain intact,” agreed Josh Withrow, a technology and innovation fellow with the R Street Institute. “Data privacy and security compromised, popular integrated products likely to be dismantled, companies still guilty till proven innocent, etc. Senators w/ grave concerns in [committee] should still be concerned.”


QUICK HITS

• The US birth rate bounced back slightly in 2021. “Births increased last year for the first time in seven years,” reports The Wall Street Journal, as “American women had about 3.66 million babies in 2021, up 1% from the prior year.” The biggest birth rate increase was among people ages 30- to 39-years-old, while the teen birth rate fell 6 percent.

The US House of Representatives will vote soon on a bill that would give federal courts the power to issue “extreme risk protection orders” (ERPOs), “which temporarily confiscate guns from people who are deemed a risk to themselves or others, or prevent them from purchasing new ones. The orders can be requested by law enforcement and concerned family members,” Politico reports.

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