UVALDE, Texas (Nexstar) – Uvalde County commissioners on Monday presented the findings of an independent review of their sheriff’s department to families of the victims of the May massacre at Robb Elementary School.
Beginning in October, the county commissioned an independent party to review the department’s policies and procedures – notably absent from the report’s scope, however, was any mention of the May 24 mass shooting that killed 19 children and two teachers.
“I can probably guess that it will not satisfy or heal [the families],” said Richard Carter, a Uvalde-based attorney hired by the county to conduct the review. “But I do think that my study and my recommendations will make it a better agency, that it will be in a better position to respond in the future and to serve and protect the people. I do believe that’s the intent of this Commissioner’s Court.”
Carter said he was surprised that the bid’s scope only included a review of policies and procedures and not an investigation of the mass shooting’s response. He explained the county knew of other state and federal investigations investigating the response to Robb Elementary and did not want to conduct a separate investigation that could interfere.
KXAN News has requested Carter’s full report, but he expressed legal concerns and said he needs to clear any release with the county judge.
Carter presented the report to victims’ families in a closed session prior to giving a brief public overview of the findings to the Commissioners Court.
Some community members delivered critical remarks to the commissioners during the public hearing, repeating their demands that Commissioner Mariano Pargas resign. Pargas was the acting police chief for the City of Uvalde on the day of the Robb Elementary School shooting, a post from which he resigned in November. But he still serves as a county commissioner.
“It’s unacceptable, inexcusable, and shameful,” one woman told the court. She questioned why the sheriff’s department did not immediately confront the shooter, regardless of what their stated policies were at the time.
“What it takes to come up here and relive it every single time… You know, and all [we] want is answers. And what do you get, this soft report?,” said Jesse Rizzo, whose niece Jackie Cazares was killed at the Robb Elementary shooting.
Notably present Monday was Uvalde County District Attorney Christina Mitchell, who families have criticized for not disclosing evidence. She ignored reporters’ questions as she exited the courthouse.
The review’s author said the legislature may require every county to have an active shooter policy after their findings
“Apparently, some agencies thought we don’t need an active shooter policy,” Carter said. We already know how to respond. But now I think everyone understands. And I think that’s why the Texas Legislature is probably going to require that all agencies have an active shooter policy, and that every licensed Texas police officer have active shooter training.”
But for the families, the report is another disappointment in their long search for answers – 202 days after the shooting, and 13 before Christmas.
“These families, they are missing somebody that’s not going to be there for the holiday,” Rizzo said. “That gift you would normally buy, they’re not going to be able to buy that gift. Because there’s nobody there, you know? And so what do you do? You go celebrate at their sacred ground, which is a cemetery. You know, that’s painful.”