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2 years later: Families of slain Uvalde children, teachers seek justice

Uvalde, Texas — Two years ago today, 19 fourth-graders and two teachers were murdered inside their classrooms at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

Days before the massacre, the gunman bought two AR-style rifles legally just after his 18th birthday.

Law enforcement’s bungled response on May 24, 2022, and a subsequent lack of accountability exacerbated the world’s shock and sorrow following the mass shooting. More than 370 federal, state and local officers converged on the scene. But they waited far too long to confront the 18-year-old gunman, acted with “no urgency” in establishing a command post and communicated inaccurate information to grieving families, according to a 600-page Justice Department report released in January.

The report catalogs a sweeping array of training, communication, leadership and technology problems that federal officials said contributed to the crisis lasting far longer than necessary. All the while, the report said, injured students inside the classrooms called 911 and agonized parents begged officers to go in. Some parents were even prevented by law enforcement from going into the school to save their children.

Now 19 families of the children and teachers killed are suing 92 officers with the Texas Department of Public Safety, the school district and individual employees. On May 22 they announced they filed a $500 million federal lawsuit.

The lawsuit notes that state troopers didn't follow their active shooter training or confront the gunman, even as the students and teachers inside were following their own lockdown protocols of turning off lights, locking doors and staying silent.

“The protocols trap teachers and students inside, leaving them fully reliant on law enforcement to respond quickly and effectively,” the families and their attorneys shared in a statement.

“We need to spend more money securing our schools. We should learn some lessons from what happened at Uvalde. We send hundreds of billions of dollars overseas to various countries, yet our schools are lacking proper security," said former law enforcement officer and current teacher who survived a school shooting, Kenneth Yuers. "We can work on improving lock systems, how teachers respond if there’s an active shooter – instead of hiding, the students need to run. It’s hard to hit a moving target."

The families have agreed to a $2 million settlement with the city, under which city leaders promised elevated standards and better training for local police. Victims' families said the settlement with the city was capped at $2 million because they didn’t want to bankrupt the city where they still live. The settlement will be paid from the city’s insurance coverage.

“The last thing they want to do was inflict financial hardship on their friend and neighbors in this community. Their friends and neighbors didn’t let them down,” Josh Koskoff, one of the attorneys for the families, said during a news conference in Uvalde on Wednesday.

The city of Uvalde released a statement saying the settlement would bring “healing and restoration” to the community.

Uvalde, a community of more than 15,000 about 85 miles southwest of San Antonio, continues to struggle with the trauma left by the mass shooting and remains divided on the issue of accountability.

“It’s beyond imagination. The horror. The helplessness," said Yuers. "My heart goes out to the Uvalde families. The trauma will live with them for years, probably the rest of their lives."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.






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