This story is part of a KXAN series of reports called “Stop Mass Shootings,” providing context and exploring solutions surrounding gun violence in the wake of the deadly Uvalde school shooting. We want our reports to be a resource for Texans, as well as for lawmakers who are convening a month after the events in Uvalde to discuss how the state should move forward. Explore all “Stop Mass Shootings” stories by clicking here.
AUSTIN (KXAN) — In the aftermath of the mass shooting in Uvalde, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered Texas school-based law enforcement to undergo specialized active shooter training — training that was not followed at Robb Elementary.
“When people are being shot and killed, you can’t wait,” said former Austin police chief Art Acevedo, who called the response a “colossal failure,” echoing the findings of the House Committee report released Sunday.
With shots still being fired, law enforcement waited more than 70 minutes to confront the gunman. Uvalde Consolidated ISD Chief Pete Arredondo, and other responders, should have been well-prepared for this moment having received specialized active shooter training, the report found. The FBI has called the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training, or ALERRT, the “national standard in active shooter response.”
The training teaches law enforcement: to immediately enter and neutralize the shooter; that lives of innocent civilians come before law enforcement; the earlier an incident command can be established the better; and the distinction between a barricaded subject and an active shooter — all of which was ignored.
KXAN reviewed Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, or TCOLE, records pertaining to eight Uvalde Police Department officers identified through the House Committee report and the newly released body camera footage.
Combined, these eight officers have nearly a century of experience as peace officers, according to TCOLE records. Three of these officers have no TCOLE record of active shooter training, including Lieutenant Mariano Pargas, the acting chief on the day of the Robb Elementary shooting.
Among the five who have active shooter training, four of the officers completed eight hours of school-based law enforcement active shooter training in the last two years. The fifth officer completed a 24-hour active shooter response course in 2014, according to TCOLE.
The ALERRT Center at Texas State University was created in 2002. It has received more than $72 million in state and federal grant money and has trained more than 130,000 law enforcement and fire officials nationwide, according to its website.
“We’re in the simulation building. It’s a mock school. Wide hallways, lots of rooms, multiple floors, stairwells and all of the things that are characteristic of where a lot of these attacks occur,” said John Curnutt with ALERRT at the time. “The facilities here are designed around training so seemingly dangerous as to tap into the part of the brain that triggers that stress response. Where we come in as trainers is to coach people through those effects of stress, to pick a right choice, to take a correct action and to be calm under pressure.”
In its report, the House Committee investigating the Uvalde shooting was critical of the report ALERRT released nearly two weeks ago, ordered by the governor, which it said contained misinformation.
“ALERRT conducted no investigation of its own and spoke to no witnesses,” the House report said, “relying instead on a snapshot of an evolving investigation.”
ALERRT’s executive director declined to comment.
Its training has been updated to reflect lessons learned after other major mass shootings. In 2016, the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando taught the importance of distinguishing between a barricaded subject and an active shooter. In 2018, the high school shooting in Parkland taught the importance of setting up an incident command to manage resources.
It is unclear what training changes, if any, will come out of Uvalde.