‘Not good enough’: Uvalde victims’ families react to report on police failures – The Guardian US | WHs Answers

WWearing a shirt with his granddaughter’s name and a button with her face on it, Vincent Salazar arrived at the Uvalde Civic Center around noon on Sunday to hear what a Texas Legislative Committee had ruled on the day of her death.

He wasn’t expecting answers to his most pressing questions, like exactly how it happened and who was responsible for not preventing the tragedy, but he still wanted to be there for Layla, the 10-year-old girl who loved to swim and to run and dance ahead of the day a gunman walked into her fourth grade classroom in May.

“I feel like this every day,” said the grieving Salazar. “Every single day. The report doesn’t change anything.”

The committee had produced a 77-page report in which authorities detailed each failure after the other during the May 24 attack. All morning Sunday, relatives trickled into the small south Texas town to pick up their copy.

Among these conclusions: Red flags about the shooter before the attack went unreported or ignored by friends and family. Doors that should be locked have been unlocked. Poor WiFi prevented some teachers from receiving emergency notifications. Officials from several agencies were unable to confront the shooter for 73 minutes.

Relatives of victims like Salazar say they cannot trust the findings of investigations conducted behind closed doors.

Committee chair, state representative and Lubbock Republican Dustin Burrows said the report is a small step forward, a joint collection of facts. There will be more reports after the deadliest school shooting in the state’s history.

“There were several systemic errors,” Burrows said Sunday, adding that other state House committees could do more to investigate who is responsible for some of those errors.

“That’s not what we were asked to do in this report,” he said.

This lack of accountability and trust in authorities in the city of around 16,000 made Salazar skeptical.

“I’ll tell you right now, it’s not the truth,” Salazar said. “It’s a joke. Texas failed those kids,” he said.

While a steady stream of families came to pick up copies of the report, others from across Texas visited the makeshift memorial in front of Robb’s elementary school.

After two months in the heat of a brutal Texas summer, the memorial outside has changed.

The fur of the teddy bears has become matted and gray. After weeks of 100F heat, the dozens of prayer candles have melted. Hundreds of stacked bouquets have withered and smell of dried rose petals in the dusty schoolyard.

Layers of toys, letters, hand-drawn posters and other memorabilia are stacked nearly 4 feet high in front of a row of 21 white crosses informally marking the murders of the 19 young children and two teachers.

Individual victims have their own credentials.

The bunch for Annabelle Rodriguez, 10, has a bright-colored straw cowboy hat and plush lamb. The one for Alithia Ramirez, 10, has a kangaroo and pink plastic flowers. The one for Layla Salazar, 10, has a faded bear dressed as a bee, a pony now with matted fur, and a Barbie doll half-buried under dozens of dried flowers. Other visible reminders of the massacre still dot the city.

Just outside the town limits is a sign that reads “Uvalde Strong” next to a billboard for a local gun shop.

The father and stepmother of Uziyah Sergio Garcia, a 10-year-old who died at school, live in San Angelo, Texas, and were in town on Sunday to see a mural honoring him.

When they heard about the newly released report, they drove to the civic center. Crystal Garcia, Uziyah’s stepmother, hoped it would shed some light on what happened that day.

“I hope so, I hope so,” Garcia told the Guardian. “It’s difficult not to have the answers you want, the answers you need.”

Uziyah’s great-aunt, Grace Valencia, pulled out her phone and started flipping through photos of the little boy, saying they were vacationing together at a popular water park this weekend.

. At a press conference on Sunday evening, many families wanted to know why the reporters had not pointed blame. They wanted accountability. They wanted action.

But because the committee prioritized questions from the media, none of the community members at the meeting were able to ask their questions. When the committee spokesman ended the meeting, the room erupted in shouts and jeers.

“You kept us waiting just like these kids and you won’t answer our questions?” cried Tina Quintanilla-Taylor, whose daughter survived the shooting.

“Lots of cowards!” Daniel Meyers, a local pastor, yelled as the committee exited the community center. “The people have the right to ask questions.”

Paul Ruiz, an educator in San Antonio, said the way the massacre was handled was part of a long history of delegitimizing the Hispanic population in that part of Texas. He pointed to lynchings and segregation efforts in the 20th century and said the region’s ongoing injustices were key to understanding the tragedy.

He also criticized the committee for not recommending gun control measures in the state. “This cabronene can identify the height of the fence, but they never point to the militaristic weapon that killed 21 people,” Ruiz said with an expletive. “This is systemic for Texas.”

Among those family members with questions was Jesse Rizo, whose brother was related to Jackie Cazares, nine, who died at school.

“She knew me as her tío, her uncle,” said Rizo. “It’s discouraging. These families are looking for closure. It will only drag on.”

Despite his low expectations, Salazar said he was upset after reading it at how little the committee had done to account for the massacre that killed his granddaughter.

“It didn’t tell you anything. It’s a joke,” Salazar said. “It’s not good enough for me. It’s not good enough for my granddaughter.”

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