July 17, 2022 5:53pm
Updated: July 18, 2022 9:28am
An epidemic of "bailouts" — when human smugglers attempt to outrun police officers in high-speed chases — contributed to the slow response to the Robb Elementary School shooting, according to a new report released by a Texas state House committee that investgated the massacre.
The committeee found that schools in Uvalde, Texas were put under lockdown nearly 50 times from late February 2022 until May due to the bailouts.
"The frequency of less-serious bailout-related alerts in Uvalde diluted the significance of alerts and dampened everyone's readiness to act on alerts, the report determined.
Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin told "Just the News, Not Noise" in April — more than one month before 21 people, including 19 children, were killed in the school shooting in his town — that last year, schools went into lockdown 48 times due to bailouts, which typically end when a smuggler crashes and the illegal migrants scatter in all directions.
Bailouts were so bad, the mayor said at the time, that "parents don't let their kids play out in their yards anymore, because they don't know what's coming down the street or who's coming,"
The number of bailouts only increased in the leadup to the school massacre, and the Texas House report found that one of the factors "contributing to relaxed vigilance on campus was the frequency of security alerts and campus lockdowns resulting from a recent rise of 'bailouts.'"
"The frequency of these 'bailout'-related alarms — around 50 of them between February and May of 2022 — contributed to a diminished sense of vigilance about responding to security alerts," the committee found.
Uvalde is located just over an hour's drive from the Mexico border.
Robb Elementary was frequently placed on lockdown as it was located near the major intersection of Highway 83 and Highway 90, according to the report.
Uvalde CISD Director of Student Services Kenneth Mueller told the committee that since February 2021, which is just after President Joe Biden took office, high-speed chases had become a daily event in the area of Uvalde, which is home to about 15,000 people.
Bailouts were so frequent that concerned Uvalde school parents offered to hire off-duty police officers to assist the school police, the report states.
While people smuggled into the United States can't be accurately counted, record numbers of illegal migrants have consistently been encountered at the southern border by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents since February 2021.
The school's Raptor alert system does not distinguish between differing types of lockdowns the school comes under, meaning that teachers and administrators responded to all alerts with less urgency.
"[W]hen they heard the sound of an alert, many assumed that it was another bailout," the report stated.
The alerts, moreover, were not reliable, and staff sometimes would not receive them due to poor wifi and turned off phones, among other things.
"While there have been no incidents of bailout-related violence on Uvalde CISD school grounds, there have been examples of high-speed driving that sometimes crossed school parking lots and reports of some bailout incidents involving firearms in the surrounding neighborhoods," the report found.
Uvalde Police Sgt. Daniel Coronado testified to the Texas House committee that he thought the Raptor alert was probably a bailout. Such responses were all too common, the committee found.
"In response to the May 24, 2022, lockdown alert at Robb Elementary, the initial reaction of many administrators, teachers, and law enforcement responders was that it likely was a less-dangerous bailout," the committee reported.
The report revealed that 376 law enforcement officers responded to the Uvalde school shooting. Even though officers first arrived on the scene just minutes after the shooter entered the school, it took more than an hour for them to neutralize the suspected gunman.
"I think each community can look at the things we've laid out in this report and make some determinations about how we can prevent this from happening," Republican state Rep. Dustin Burrows, chairman of the Uvalde shooting investigative committee, said at a press conference Sunday.
Officers who knew that it was an active shooter incident "should have done more," Burrows said, but he did not blame the other law enforcement officers who did not know that it was an active shooter situation.
Other than the suspect, the House committee did not find any "villains" in the tragedy. "There is no one to whom we can attribute malice or ill motives," they concluded. "Instead, we found systemic failures and egregious poor decision making. We recognize that that the impact of this tragedy is felt most profoundly by the people of Uvalde in ways we cannot fully comprehend."