Uvalde learns auditor breached school; analysis shows delays in medical response to shooting

A report on a safety audit recently conducted at Uvalde schools, and a new analysis revealing stunning delays in the medical response after the shooting at Robb Elementary delivered a one-two punch of bad news for the community just before the winter holidays.



Flowers and gifts are left at a memorial outside of Robb Elementary School.

A safety report presented at the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District board meeting on Monday evening described how a state-mandated auditor entered one of the district's schools this semester through a door opened for a truck delivery.

Also this week, an analysis by ProPublica, the Texas Tribune and the Washington Post found that a chaotic, fractured medical response to the Robb Elementary School shooting further delayed care for victims in May.

A teenage gunman killed 21 people that day, including 19 young children.

Interim Superintendent Gary Patterson, discussing the school security report, explained that there “was access gained on one exterior door at a campus that was in a cafeteria loading dock area,"

The auditor randomly attempted to gain access to three of the district's schools over a two-day period. The attempt was successful at one of the schools. Patterson said all of the doors were locked, but the latch of the door opened for the cafeteria delivery was faulty. The loading dock is not in a fenced-in area.

The auditor was stopped by staff in the cafeteria, which did not have students at the time. Patterson said staff will receive additional security training before the school restarts in January.

The school safety report also included an update on campus safety improvements.

Patterson said material issues have caused delays in the installation of security barriers and replacement doors. "The high school and the junior high school have zero percent completion because we are still waiting on those doors," he said.

Safety improvements including door replacements, fencing and security cameras are being paid in part through $4.9 million in grants. The district also said it expects to continue interviews to fill campus police positions after the holidays.

Deadly delays

The news analysis of video footage and other records from the day of the shooting concluded that two of the three victims who died after being rescued had critical delays in access to medical care.

It took 16 minutes to locate an ambulance for teacher Eva Mireles, even though two were parked just around the corner. She died without ever leaving the school.

Medics called for a helicopter to airlift 10-year-old Xavier Lopez to a hospital but opted to drive him instead when a chopper wasn't immediately available.

Families of the victims responded on social media with sorrow and continued calls for accountability.

Law enforcement vehicles and school buses blocked ambulances from accessing the school. And medical helicopters were told to wait at an airport three miles away.

Experts told the news outlets the biggest barrier to timely access to medical treatment was the long delay in confronting the gunman. But they said the fractured medical response also worsened their chances of survival.

State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde, said in a statement that the Texas Department of Public Safety should take responsibility.

"In a few weeks, the Texas State Legislature will convene for the first time since the massacre at Robb Elementary,” the Democrat said. “I pray my colleagues will join us to hold DPS accountable, take common-sense steps to stop gun violence, and do right by Uvalde families."

Copyright 2022 Texas Public Radio. To see more, visit Texas Public Radio.
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