Friday, May 27, 2022

The Uvalde shooting: what we're learning is deeply troubling


I posted my initial reaction yesterday to the shooting of 21 people, including 19 children, at Uvalde on Tuesday.  Since then, a lot has emerged that's deeply troubling, to say the least.

The first point at issue is the conduct of local police in response to the incident.  There's video shot at the scene of Uvalde police not only refusing to enter the school in an attempt to stop the shooter, but actively preventing parents from doing so to try to rescue their children.  Official statements are beginning to confirm some of this.

Texas Department of Public Safety Lieutenant Chris Olivarez said in a Thursday interview with CNN that the first few officers who entered Robb Elementary School after the 18-year-old shooter Salvador Ramos were met with gunfire and retreated to avoid being shot and killed.

“At that point, if they pursued it any further — not knowing where the suspect was at — they could’ve been shot; they could’ve been killed and, at that point, that gunman would have the opportunity to kill other people inside that school,” Olivarez told host Wolf Blitzer.

There's more at the link.

If this report is accurate - and so far, there's no reason to believe it isn't - then accusations of cowardice against the cops concerned are no more than they deserve.  Indeed, the claim that cops retreated because "they could’ve been shot; they could’ve been killed and, at that point, that gunman would have the opportunity to kill other people inside that school" is ludicrous.  At that point, the gunman DID have the opportunity to kill others, BECAUSE the police retreated!

When you swear an oath to protect and serve the public, you don't simultaneously swear an oath never to put yourself at risk while doing so.  The latter goes with the territory of the former.  A policeman's job is, by definition, a dangerous one, and there's no way to make it anything other than that.  I want to know what the official departmental policy(ies) of the Uvalde police force was/is concerning such crimes, and whether they were followed.  It looks very bad for the force, and for responding officers, right now.

The shining exception(s) is/are, of course, those law enforcement personnel (reportedly Border Patrol officers) who responded no matter what the risk to themselves.  For example:

Jacob Albarado had just sat down for a haircut when he received the horrifying message from his wife, Trisha, a fourth grade teacher at the Uvalde, Texas elementary school, he told The New York Times.

“There’s an active shooter,” she wrote.  “Help,” she sent before sending a chilling: “I love you.”

He immediately leapt out of his seat, grabbed the barber’s shotgun and sped off towards the school.

. . .

A tactical team was preparing to enter the school where the killer was located when Albarado arrived at the scene. Desperate to get his daughter and wife out, he made a plan with other officers to try and enter the school and evacuate as many students as possible.

He said he entered the wing of the school where he knew his daughter was located, and as he searched for her began “clearing all the classes in her wing,” he told The Times.

Two officers provided cover with guns drawn while two others guided dozens of “hysterical” children and teachers out to the sidewalk, he said.

When Albarado finally saw his 8-year-old daughter, Jayda, they embraced but he kept moving forward to bring more students to safety.

Again, more at the link.

One can only congratulate and thank those officers for their courage in putting their own lives at risk to save others.  One can also wish that the officers who initially responded to the crisis had shown the same courage.  It appears at present that, because they didn't, twenty-one innocent lives were lost.

More troubling are the renewed calls for gun control legislation that have (inevitably) followed this tragedy.  Some, from anguished parents mourning the loss of their children, are entirely understandable, based on emotion rather than logic.  Others, from politicians, journalists and pundits seeking to exploit this tragedy, are beyond the pale - almost literally dancing in the blood of those who died.  As Tucker Carlson complains:

A mass shooting is just too tempting a moment for [our leaders] to demagog. The public is often grieving and in shock, so it's the perfect moment for the usual opportunists to leap forward and cast blame on their political opponents, to seize all the power they can while the country is too traumatized to notice. You almost never hear anyone in Washington ask what happened. Instead, it's always a race to see who can benefit politically.

. . .

These ghouls drawing politically convenient conclusions, accusing people who have no connection whatsoever to this massacre, of murder, all on the basis of no evidence, and then when the evidence emerges and it doesn't comport with the politically convenient story they want to tell, they simply ignore it.

But the rest of us should not ignore it. We should not avert our gaze. We should demand the truth. We should demand to know what happened. The children who are murdered deserve at least that.

More at the link.

What no politician or commentator appears to be asking is whether more legislation, regulation, etc. would have succeeded in preventing any mass shootings of this kind.  That's my litmus test.  Show me any proposed legislation or regulation concerning firearms, meant to prevent future tragedies of this or any other kind, and my first response will be:  "Show me how this would have prevented/will prevent such tragedies."  If you can't show me, the legislation or regulation is pointless.  It's yet another case of "Don't just stand there - do something!", even if the something will be completely ineffectual.

I'm unashamedly pro-Second Amendment, and always will be.  The trouble is, too many gun control rules and regulations already infringe on that right, to the point that it's almost legislated out of existence in some localities.  (Take a bow, New York City - although there's hope that a pending SCOTUS ruling may go some way towards rectifying things there.)  Other infringements on other enumerated rights have, from time to time, been either ratified or dismissed by SCOTUS, so it's hard to argue that all constitutional rights are unfettered.  Nevertheless, the basic principle appears to be that a right may not be restricted to the point that it becomes difficult to exercise it.  On that basis, it's hard to figure out what new gun control legislation, prompted by the Uvalde massacre, would pass constitutional muster.

There's talk of possible national Red Flag legislation.  That would only work in the case of a shooter who both exhibited warning signs, and was known to possess weapons.  It would not, for example, have stopped the Sandy Hook massacre, where the shooter - not previously "flagged" as any threat to anyone, despite his aberrant behavior - murdered his own mother to gain access to the gun he used.  It would also not work in cases where "red flag" behavior did not present itself, or was not reported, prior to the incident.  Therefore, I'd say it could be classified as "feel-good legislation", giving the appearance of doing something positive to prevent such crimes, but in reality not stopping them at all.  That's the acid test as far as I'm concerned, even without considering enumerated rights.  If the proposed law or regulation won't help, why pass it in the first place?

Gun bans or confiscation won't work.  Not only would they disarm law-abiding citizens as well as actual (or potential) criminals, there are far more guns in America than there are people.  It's been that way for a long time now.  Nothing will change that.  That genie is long since out of the bottle, and we can't cram it back inside again.  There are far too many guns out there to confiscate all, or even most, of them.

Furthermore, I, for one, will refuse to allow my constitutional rights to be trampled in the name of preventing crime by someone else:  and I think the majority of Americans feel the same.  The guns I own at present have never (AFAIK) killed or injured anyone, and I hope and pray they never will - but they have defended me in the past, and put food on my table, and they currently provide security for my wife and I every day.  I regard all those things as necessities, not luxuries.

I have no other answers.  I can only "weep with those who weep" in Uvalde, to use the Biblical standard.  We all share - or should share - their grief.  As to what to do next . . . what - if anything - will actually work to prevent this happening again?  If you, dear reader, have any ideas, let's hear them.


EDITED TO ADD:  Larry Lambert notes:  "Apparently, the kids at the school were in large part, illegal aliens, so the school staff didn’t want a school resource police officer present on campus. True/untrue, who knows at this point?"


1chota said...

Every single officer that refused to enter that school, from whatever agency, should be summarily fired. The Chief of Police should be fired.
Knowing that township as I do and the people that inhabit it; I would imagine the police officers are living in fear. And, they should be. The nicest thing that could happen to them would be a severe beating.
They should never hold another law enforcement job ever again.

les1 said...

Before continuing the "Cops were cowards" meme, take a look at the school. Open concept 50's school, with the classrooms opening onto the sidewalk. Children in unhardened classrooms literally all around. They apparently kept the shooter confined to one classroom, where he barricaded himself while they evacuated the rest of the school. Plus, who knew what was going on? Then they went and killed the shooter. The people who responded were from that community with wives and children there. Lots of Monday morning quarterbacks out there. The shooter is dead, so they are looking for a scapegoat.

Aesop said...

Charging every officer who stood outside with criminal negligence resulting in wrongful death, and removing all qualified immunity from them for criminal and civil actions, would end that nonsense forever.

Erecting a monument with the names of them, under a giant white chicken, on the school's front lawn, and naming it Cowards Park in their honor would be the least that the citizens of that town ought to do, after they fire everyone from beat cop to chief.

If they were all tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a rail, and burned out of their homes, a bill of no indictment by the local grand jury would also be in order.

Just for openers.

edlfrey said...

I think it took 16 minutes for any police to show up as well. Protect and serve!

Fredrick said...

Looks like shooting back works. Police response rates will be bad just about everywhere.

GuardDuck said...


They had him confined in a classroom full of children? And they waited? Were they sure every child in that classroom was already dead? Or did they just decide to write that class off?

That doesn't make it better.


I would run into gunfire trying to protect my kids.

wtcreaux said...

Recognize that we live in a fallen world. That means that evil walks and works and lives amongst us.

Harden your heart to deal decisively with that evil - and the only thing that stops it physically is to kill it.

Have the mental and psychological fortitude to be able to "throw the switch", killing efficiently, effectively, and rapidly

Hug your family every day and let them know you love them

KNOW how to use a weapon, including improvised, and carry every day (SCOTUS has 100% consistently ruled that the police have ZERO responsibility for your safety; and realize that the slogan "to serve and to protect" is just that - a slogan from the 1950s LA county (police?) academy)

Be prepared to deal with "interferers", whether political, government, or neighbors......

nick flandrey said...

No one has yet made the claim that they arrived not to an active shooter but to a barricaded hostage taker, which MIGHT justify their actions, at least from a doctrinal standpoint. But no one did anything that would support that sort of determination either. They didn't attempt to establish communication for example.

Doctrine on active shooter response is very clear. First on scene enters and attempts to stop the threat. You are supposed to wait for one other responder as backup, but if you can hear shooting, I can't imaging waiting.

I can't imagine it, but we've seen it here, we've seen it at Parkland. We've seen it at the Pulse nightclub.

What I haven't seen is a clear timeline of when the murderer was actually shooting vs the response. What I have seen is that some students survived to later die at the hospital. How many of those kids bled out while the cops waited around?

The sheepish claim that they had the shooter "contained" and that it saved lives is ludicrous based on information released so far. Contained would mean officers outside the door and windows with eyes on the murderer, guns at the ready, ready and able to shoot him if he moved. Contained = unable to do any further harmful actions. They did not have any such thing.


and for what it's worth, I've had two classes on civilian response to active shooter events with our local constables, and one with our big city PD. I volunteered in my kids' elementary school. I had a plan there for MY response in my classroom that couldn't be locked. When a driveby shooter fired shots at our neighborhood pool and the kids there, I ran toward the shots. I KNOW my response, not just talking from my keyboard.

James said...

Something you don't mention is the reports, back by a police official, that several of the officers went in and got their own kids and left all the rest while the shooter was active.

Unknown said...

reports are confused, wait until the details come out.

@James, I've seen reports that much of the school was evacuated, including kids of the cops doing the evacuations. I haven't seen reports of individual students being pulled out (I admit I have not seen everything)

@Nick, the updated timeline I saw last night did say that they were attempting to establish communications with him.

but to everyone, wait for the info to come out, don't jump to conclusions based on partial information.

David Lang

nick flandrey said...

Watch the video. They did think they had a barricaded subject and not an active shooter, so apparently switched doctrine.

Officials acknowledged many flaws in the response to the Uvalde school shooting saying police officers should have gone in rather than waiting, and that delay cost lives of children.

"It was the wrong decision, very wrong. There's no excuse for that. … When there's an active shooter, the rules change. There is no longer a barricaded subject. You don't have time," he said.

McCraw added that "if I thought it would help, I would apologize."


Jolie said...

Update, I could link the townhall dot com thread where Texas DPS is answering a whole bunch of pointed questions but I am unsure of the protocol but I'll just hit the point I want to. It is referenced in the press conference that the school does have an SRO, he was off campus at the time. He heard the 911 call and rushed back to the school but unfortunately missed the shooter in passing. I would have to dig further to find out why.

Jmparret said...

There are many problems with the shooter story line. If he had so much time why was he only in one classroom. Did he have a target???

Not sure how he got in unless the school guard propped the door open to chase him then got shot.

GuardDuck said...

They did think they had a barricaded subject and not an active shooter, so apparently switched doctrine."

That's just stupid. They admit they had officers who received incoming fire from the guy. That makes him an active shooter. Period. Until he is neutralized, one way or the other.

If he stops shooting and is held up in a class full of kids he can't downgrade from an active shooter to a barricaded suspect. He's already shown that he is using lethal force. Hell, he could have been in ther slitting little kids throats while the cops are out there thinking he's "just barricaded".

Twenty years of training this shit and they still can't do it right.

The Lab Manager said...

No thinking cop wants to be blamed for shooting the wrong duh-versity with too much melanin and get Derek Chauvined for life. So there is that angle to consider.

One question is how did the Uvalde shooter and Buffalo, NY shooter get the money for the weapons they allegedly used.

Ray - SoCal said...

Life Ruined, not just blamed.

No cop wants to be the next Derek Chauvin, who was sacrificed for diversity.

Will said...

"protect and serve" is considered an outmoded concept by the police these days, and I would guess that has been the case for a long time, at least since the 90's, judging by what I have seen and heard.

If the threat of guns is involved in a call, too many of them will slow roll their response, in the hope that others will get there first, or at least there will be a crowd of badge toters showing up to make them feel safer. Not that a crowd makes them safer, quite the opposite.

A couple years ago, my neighbor had a home invasion at around 11:am. Started as a burglary with 3 gangsters, but they discovered his 14 yo daughter was home, and decided to attempt to break down the door she was behind. Cops were called, and they all arrived WITHOUT lights or sirens, and hid in the neighbor's yards to await their exit. Eventually they bailed, and the cops lost one, caught one, and had to get a dog to find the third one. He was livid when he found out what the cops had done. He made sure the rest of the street found out how the cops had acted.

Realize, AND REMEMBER, that it is just a job with good retirement bennies to most cops.

Jeff McPhate said...

There are 310,000 K-12 schools in the USA, public and private. The $40B we just sent to Ukraine would pay $300k for a year for trained, armed security for every school in the country, right now, today, to solve this problem. Now.

But TPTB don't want to solve this problem. They want this problem to persist so that their solution - scary rifle confiscation - becomes the only solution. Because their goal isn't protecting children, it is disarming the American people. They will do anything to AVOID solving this problem because they need it to persist to be sure that they can justify their disarmament program.

TwoDogs said...

Where did they get the money indeed. The Daniel Defense rifle the Uvalde goon carried into the school is a $2K piece of gear, and it looked to be equipped with an $800 optic. My guess would be he pilfered Grandpa's Mastercard, or had it linked into Apple Pay or the like on his phone. They all have smartphones, don't they ?

snuffy said...

Re: financing. The freak did have a job, lived with grandparents. I know Wendys isn't paying 20 or 25 an hour, but if the grandparents were not charging rent, and he could eat for free at the Wendys, with some self-discipline, it's not hard to save up 3 or 4 k in a few months. Especially if he was working a lot, if they were as shorthanded as every other fast food joint.