Survivors and the families of victims from the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on May 24 that saw 19 children and two teachers killed have banded together to file a $27 million class action lawsuit against several law enforcement groups over their failures that day.
CNN reports that the lawsuit was filed Tuesday and said, "Instead of swiftly implementing an organized and concerted response to an active school shooter who had breached the otherwise 'secured' school buildings at Robb Elementary school, the conduct of the three hundred and seventy-six (376) law enforcement officials who were on hand for the exhaustively torturous seventy-seven minutes of law enforcement indecision, dysfunction, and harm, fell exceedingly short of their duty bound standards."
Surviving school teachers and staff as well as parents of the dead children filed the suit in federal court in Austin and "names the city, the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District, the school district’s police department, the Uvalde Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety and a number of persons who are members or former members of the agencies listed as defendants."
The Uvalde school district in Texas suspended its entire police force on October 7 in the wake of their failure to adequately respond to the slaughter at the school. The head of the Texas State Police Steven C. McCraw said that officers on-scene could have stopped gunman Salvador Ramos's rampage within "three minutes" in June.
Pete Arredondo, the school district's former police chief, was fired in August.
As Ramos went to rooms 111 and 112, police did not make an attempt to enter or breach the doors, which were unlocked. Ramos hid in the classrooms and the massacre continued while surveillance video shows officers standing idly by as children screamed only feet away.
According to the lawsuit, law enforcement officials "fundamentally strayed from conducting themselves in conformity with what they knew to be the well-established protocols and standards for responding to an active shooter.
Arredondo arrived on scene without a radio but made a call to dispatch at 11:40 am saying "We're inside the building, he's in one room," and "I need a lot of firepower, so I need this building surrounded. Surrounded with as many AR-15s as possible."
Arredondo proceeded to check for keys that would access the unlocked room and tried a set on an entirely different classroom door safely away from the shooter.
At 12:16 pm, a child was on an emergency line reporting that several kids were still alive and begged for police to enter. In response, Chief Arredondo reportedly said, "Tell them to f*cking wait"
Outside parents were detained and handcuffed as they wanted to rush in and save their dying children. The lawsuit claims those parents as well as other victims and survivors "sustained emotional and psychological damages as a result of Defendants’ conduct and omissions."
At 12:23 pm Arredondo was told that they'd already lost two kids, but responded "we have to put those aside right now" because he was afraid that bullets could break through the thin walls. He continued to wait for more gear and men.
The report by the Texas House found that nearly 376 local, state, and federal officers waited outside the Uvalde school as Ramos targeted the children. County Commissioner John Yeackle said that, despite the massive law enforcement presence, "no one seemed to know who was in charge."
Ramos was eventually shot and killed at 12:50, 77 minutes after he entered, at the hands of a Border Patrol tactical team.
A spokesperson for the school district, Anne Marie Espinoza, told CNN, "There are no words to adequately express our deepest condolences to all the families who lost a loved one on May 24."
"Uvalde CISD cannot comment on or provide information about pending litigation. As a district, we focus on supporting our students and their families as we continue to navigate these unprecedented times," she added.
There have been several other civil lawsuits filed over the law enforcement failures stemming from May 24.
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