When a gunman attacked an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24, only 20% of the deputies in the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office had received training on how to handle an active-shooter situation, according to the findings of an after-action review announced today.
The lead investigator brought in by Uvalde’s county commissioners also reported the elected county sheriff, Ruben Nolasco, had not undergone active-shooter training in the nearly two years he’s held the post as the county’s top lawman. There were 16 sheriff’s officers among the nearly 400 law enforcement officers on scene during the rampage in May.
Former judge and police procedure consultant Richard Carter, retained in the wake of the school shooting, said he “conducted a forensic review of Uvalde sheriff's office…I did not conduct an investigation of actions or inactions.”
Carter said one of his key recommendations is that all personnel in the sheriff’s department be trained on how to handle active-shooter incidents – something that was only added to the department’s policy manual four months after 19 students and two teachers were killed at Robb Elementary School.
Officials with the Uvalde County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to questions from ABC News, including how many deputies are currently employed by the agency and how many present on May 24 had completed active-shooter training.
Nolasco and his actions that day are being investigated by the Texas Department of Public Safety, and senior officials at DPS have reported to investigators that he acted like an incident commander outside the school, as police waited more than an hour for the order to attack the shooter. Nolasco has denied he was in command and has made only limited comments in the months since the shooting. Carter said Texas law does not require sheriff’s departments to have active-shooter training.
“I would anticipate that in the next session of legislature – I would be disappointed and shocked – if there was not legislation that made it a requirement, a mandatory course that all Texas police officers be required to take an active shooter response course,” said Carter.
County officials declined to release a copy of Carter’s report. Carter announced the results of his review at a meeting of the county commissioners, which was even more emotional because of the presence of Commissioner Mariano Pargas, the man who was in charge of the Uvalde City Police Department during the May massacre and has since retired from the force before he could be fired. It was Pargas’ first public appearance since he retired last month.
Jesse Rizo, uncle of Jacklyn Cazares who was killed at Robb, told commissioners the after action review still leaves the families of victims with unanswered questions.
“It is beyond comprehension,” Rizo said. “It solely focuses on policy and procedure. The families come up here to want answers. What they want to know is the detailed information.”
Rizo spoke directly to Pargas, saying “It doesn’t take a manual to tell you what to do. You failed them. It’s time for you to resign.”
In an emotional scene outside the courthouse, families of victims confronted Pargas urging him to "step down." Pargas, who was escorted by multiple sheriff’s deputies to his car, did not respond to comment.
Brett Cross, guardian of 10-year-old Uziyah Garcia who was killed in the shooting, told ABC News, “they want to hide behind the badge. It is sickening.”