The US Justice Department said it will investigate the police response to the mass shooting at a school in Uvalde, Texas, which killed 19 children and two teachers.
This investigation is as a result of the growing public anger after it emerged that officers waited in the hallway as children trapped with the shooter made desperate 911 calls. US President, Joe Biden, visited Uvalde to meet families devastated by the killings. His visit will also reach some survivors of the Texas shooting.
First Lady, Jill Biden, and a teacher, accompanied the President to a memorial at Robb Elementary School. They were seen comforting the school’s Principal, Mandy Gutierrez, beside a carpet of floral tributes for the teachers, and children (said to be under 10 years old) ), who lost their lives.
A Moment of Assessment
Announcing its Critical Incident Review on Sunday, May 29, 2022, the US Justice Department noted that the goal is to “provide an independent account of law enforcement actions and responses that day, and to identify lessons learned and best practices to help first responders prepare for and respond to active shooter events”.
The shooting incident has already provoked new calls for gun control measures in a country reeling from two vicious shootings within 10 days, although leading Republicans oppose tightening gun rules. According to records, the US now surpassed 200 mass shootings since the beginning of 2022. A mass shooting is defined as an incident in which four or more people are shot or killed, excluding the shooter.
Plans Being Made
According to White House officials, Mr. Biden is unlikely to offer specific policy proposals or seek to issue an executive order in the coming weeks to avoid interfering with delicate negotiations between Senate Democrats and Republicans. The President’s visit came days after 18-year-old Salvador Ramos opened fire on a classroom of fourth-graders with a legally acquired AR-15 style assault rifle.
The gunman’s rampage lasted for over an hour and police found as many as 1,657 rounds of ammunition and 60 magazines in his possession after he was finally shot dead. Authorities have struggled to give a clear timeline of how events unfolded in Uvalde.
On Friday, May 27, 2022, officials admitted that police delayed entering the school for over 40 minutes because they did not believe it was still an “active shooter” situation. The Senior Officer on the scene decided to wait until the school janitor arrived with the keys because they thought that either “no kids were at risk” by then, or “no-one was living anymore”.
Already, several leading Republicans already pushed back against calls for tighter rules on gun ownership, such as background checks. On Friday, May 27, 2022, former US President, Donald Trump, told the media that the National Rifle Association’s annual conference that decent Americans should be allowed firearms to defend themselves against “evil”.
And Texas Senator, Ted Cruz, accused Democrats and the media of seeking to “politicise” the shooting in Uvalde to “restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens”. Speaking to media at a memorial site in Uvalde ahead of Mr. Biden’s visit, several mourners expressed support for stricter gun laws.
A resident, Melissa Rangel, said she was in favour of age checks, questioning “how at 18 years old you’re able to buy a gun”. San Antonio resident, Eduardo Messa disclosed that “I mean, we have age limits for things like cigarettes and alcohol, why not for guns, you know, this is just… this kind of massacre that occurred this week is just so heart-breaking and sad”.
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